Boulder sex addiction counseling specialist Dr. Michael Barta and the Colorado Sexual Recovery Center have used EMDR to help hundreds of patients suffering from sex addiction. Recently, EMDR has made headlines around the country. From couple’s therapy to treating veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome to providing relief for parents of autistic children, major news outlets and psychology journals alike have touted the benefits of EMDR over the last few weeks. But what is it and how can it help people suffering from sex addiction?
EMDR or “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” is a non-traditional approach to psychotherapy. EMDR doesn’t require hours of long discussions on a therapist’s couch, nor does it employ the use of medications. Instead, EMDR simply uses the repetitive and deliberate rapid eye movements of a patient. These patterns of eye movements weaken the power of traumatic and volatile memories and events. Most therapists using EMDR move their fingers back and forth in front of a patient’s face, asking them to follow the motions with their eyes. Simultaneously, the EMDR therapist asks the patient to recall the details, physical sensations and emotions of a painful past event. Next, the therapist guides the patient’s thoughts to more positive ones. Over time, EMDR patients can dilute the power of past trauma and start to move forward.
For sex addicts, EMDR can be incredibly powerful. Whether it be molestation, rape, bullying, or physical or sexual abuse, most addicts have one or more painful events hidden deep in their past. In fact, recent studies estimate that 80 to 90 percent of sex addicts have suffered some form of trauma. Therefore, EMDR can provide a lot of relief to addicts who are puzzled by their sexual behaviors.
“In EMDR sessions, we ask patients to revisit emotionally unpleasant images or beliefs about themselves related to a traumatic event,” Dr. Barta explains. “Assuring the patient that they are in a safe place, we then ask them to pay close attention to their eye movements, finger tapping or other body responses. We then discuss with the patient the emotions that came to the surface during the exercise. If a patient has responded positively to the treatment, we usually recommend further EMDR sessions until the distress has been reduced.” EMDR, along with accountability and an individualized recovery plan, is an effective sex addiction therapy that can help heal old scars and traumas.
Dr. Barta is a sex addiction counselor with over 28 years of addiction recovery experience. Contact him today to find out if EMDR is right for you.
Michael Barta, Ph.D., CSAT – S