EMDR Therapy and Addiction

Addictions and trauma go hand in hand. Research shows that the number of traumatic events in a persons life and chronic stress correlates with a higher likelihood of addictive behaviors. In fact, adults who were physically, sexually abused or neglected as children are five times more likely to develop addictions then their non abused peers. Early life experiences programs the brain and body for their environment. Stress becomes trauma only when it comes in “doses” that are too large or too unpredictable or too sustained over which the person has little or no control. Addictive behaviors and substances act as a soothing mechanism for the brain.

Addictions are created when a desired feeling and behavior become fixated together. For example, if the feeling of being a winner has become fixated with the behavior of gambling, the person gambles in order to feel like a winner. So when a intense desired feeling becomes linked with a positive event then a addictive fixation occurs. To treat addictions we use the FSAP (Feeling State Addiction Protocol) by Dr. Robert Miller which is a modified form of EMDR therapy and is designed to break the fixation between feeling and behavior. This fixation is the cause of addictions.

In the process of  treating addiction I assist clients in identifying the exact feeling and behavior, the fixation can be processed using the modified form of the ‘EMDR protocol. The Feeling-State Addiction Protocol is designed to treat the following addictions such as smoking and substance addiction. It also treats behavioral addictions called impulse control disorders such as compulsive gambling, shopping, sex addiction, shoplifting, and many more.

Here are the steps that we take:


Identify the exact behavior that has the most intense positive feeling.


Identify the exact feeling that underlies that behavior.


A modified form of EMDR is utilized to break the connection between the feeling and behavior.


The negative beliefs that underlie the compulsive fixation are processed.

Once the fixation is broken, there are no further cravings or urges that have to be controlled or behavior that has to be managed. In fact the person is able to perform the behavior as appropriate. The underlying trauma that is connected to the addiction is processed with standard EMDR therapy. To learn more about the Feeling State Addiction Protocol please visit the website at: www.fsaprotocol.com.

Have questions? Call today to find out how I can help you.