Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a relatively new intervention for helping individuals recover from trauma and addiction. Originally developed in the 1990s for PTSD, EMDR is becoming an increasingly popular therapy for people suffering from mental health issues of all kinds, including depression, anxiety, and addiction. Several studies have shown strong anecdotal evidence that EMDR can be a highly effective treatment for sex addiction, as it works to address the root cause of the addiction, rather than simply allaying its symptoms.

I offer private EMDR therapy for individuals suffering from any kind of mental health disturbance, including PTSD, love addiction, sex additction, porn addiction, and more. As a front-line therapy for recovery and relapse prevention, EMDR may not only be effective for those struggling with addiction themselves, but also their partners, by healing negative self-beliefs and strengthening relationships. Read on to learn more about EMDR therapy for sex addiction,  then schedule an appointment today.

How Does EMDR Work?

EMDR works by allowing an individual to focus on an emotionally disturbing memory while focusing on external stimuli, such as a moving point of light (direct lateral eye movements), hand-tapping, or audio stimulation. This external stimuli helps to attenuate any overwhelming psychological and psychological effects that would normally prevent the patients from revisiting the memory. 

This is because traumatic effects are often less upsetting to think about when one’s attention is partially diverted. In turn, the client learns to create new associations with these memories, allowing for the development of insights which can help eliminate emotional distress. EMDR therapy has proven that the mind can heal from psychological trauma, similarly to how the body heals from physical trauma.

How Does EMDR Work for Sex Addiction?

Since EMDR therapy was originally developed to treat PTSD, you might be wondering how it could possibly help those struggling from an addiction. The truth is that most addictions originate with some form of (usually childhood) trauma. As Gabor Mate, MD, an expert in sex addiction, says, “Don’t ask why the addiction. Ask why the pain.” Getting to the root of the pain for those suffering from sex addiction can not only help allay their symptoms and destructive behaviors but help them recover from what caused the addiction in the first place.

EMDR for addiction recovery is based on the basic human principle that we avoid pain by seeking pleasure. Sex addiction is considered a behavioral addiction. Thus, proponents of trauma-informed addiction recovery believe that the real addiction is to the feeling that underlies the behavior, not the behavior itself. EMDR works by delinking the positive feelings associated with the sex addict’s behavior — whether that’s compulsive porn watching, infidelity, or any other maladaptive behavior. After the positive feeling is delinked, EMDR then helps to process the trauma(s) that led to the addiction in the first place. Often these traumas are instances where the person felt unlovable, unimportant, worthless, or powerfless. 

EMDR can also help sex addicts, in particular, heal attachment wounds that may have made it difficult to connect with others. These wounds are often the result of early attachment relationships with parents and other caretakers. EMDR can help make sex addicts less afraid of intimacy and love. 

How Does EMDR Work for the Partners of Sex Addicts?

EMDR therapy can also be used to help heal the partners of sex addicts. Often, these individuals suffer PTSD-like symptoms from their relationship, including nightmares, disruptive thoughts, severe anxiety, and more. EMDR can be used to target the memories that caused these reactions.

EMDR can also help counteract negative self-beliefs that may have resulted from their partner’s betrayal, such as thoughts like: I am worthless, I am unlovable, I am not enough. With EMDR, the partners of sex addicts can transform these negative beliefs into thoughts like: I did the best I could, It’s not my fault, I am lovable. 

Additionally, EMDR can help sex addicts and their partners move on in their relationship, whether that means reconciliation or separation. It provides clarity that other forms of therapy may not be able to offer, and can give guidance for setting boundaries, identifying triggers, and reestablishing trust.  

Schedule an EMDR Therapy Appointment Today

If you live in the Austin area and are interested in learning more about EMDR therapy for sex addiction or anything else you or your partner are struggling with, schedule an appointment with me today. I look forward to helping you heal.