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EMDR as a Treatment Option for Sex Addicts

Treatment of sex addiction at New York Pathways is multi-faceted and consists of more than talk therapy. We have found over the years that by combining a number of treatment modalities, we can help our clients find lasting and positive changes. Our therapists have training in many different areas, and working together with our clients, we will find the best treatment plan for each individual. In this regard, a treatment known as Eye Movement Desensitization EMDR Treatment Option for Sex Addictionand Reprocessing (“EMDR”) has been very helpful to a large portion of our clients.  EMDR was developed in 1987 by a psychologist named Francine Shapiro, who observed that by moving her eyes from side to side, she was able to reduce her own negative thoughts and memories. From this experience, EMDR was born, and it is now a recognized and effective treatment for trauma.

Trauma – An Underlying Factor in Sex Addiction

At New York Pathways, the first goal of treatment is stopping the out of control sexual behavior. Once the sex addict stops the behavior, we can then turn to the underlying issues that can trigger the out of control behavior. Most sex addicts have experienced some form of trauma and have used sexual acting out behavior as a way to deal with it. Until the sex addict heals from the trauma, it may be difficult to break the addiction cycle as the addict will be drawn to the old, unhealthy behavior in an effort to cope with the trauma. EMDR has been found to be most effective for those clients who have suffered a major traumatic event, which is very common with individuals struggling with sex addiction. Through the use of EMDR, New York Pathways has been able to help a large portion of our clients heal from past trauma.

EMDR Focuses on the Sex Addict’s Specific Trauma

During EMDR treatment, the therapist will take a history of the client in order to understand the trauma that has been suffered. Sometimes the trauma is one major event, such as an incidence of sexual abuse or a violent act. Other times, the trauma is suffered over time, such as emotional neglect or verbal abuse. The client and therapist will identify and target the specific trauma upon which the EMDR treatment will be focused. Then, using eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones, the therapist will work with the client to “float back” to the memory of the trauma, eliciting as much detail as possible. In this way, the client is anchored in the present while journeying back to the past, re-experiencing the trauma with the safe guidance of the therapist. The painful memory of the trauma is then replaced with a different memory or thought. For example, instead of feeling shame or fear, the client may be able to replace those feelings with a feeling of strength – “I survived, and I am strong.” What to expect in a session. Check it out today. If you think EMDR can help you heal from trauma and break the sex addiction cycle, reach out to New York Pathways. Visit our website or give us a call at 212-244-4447.

Photo by Daniil Kuželev