The Use of FSAP EMDR in Addiction Treatment

Behavioral compulsions like sexual addiction, addictive shopping, and compulsive gambling create massive changes that affect people’s behavior, including their entire lives. According to Hase, M., Schallmayer & Sack (2008), people who have no control over their sexual, shopping or gambling behaviors tend to suffer greatly. As a result, they suffer emotional, physical and financial problems. Based on the psychodynamic etiology of compulsive gambling, individuals can be explained differently. One of the likely reasons for gambling is euphoria, coupled with an increased need to please other people. Another reason is omnipotent incitement or the need to engage in risky behavior to hide strong feelings of emptiness and despair. The next reason is to improve competitiveness since winning creates a feeling of competition. Other reasons include the need to rebel or engage in illegal activities, to be financially independent, to conform socially, and to create an individual perception of counteracting intolerable feelings (Bae et al., 2015). Treating these compulsive aspects of gambling requires letting go of these concerns and avoiding gambling at all costs.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a comprehensive program to treat sexual compulsion (O’Brien & Abel, 2011). The treatment program is developed in different phases. The initial one requires creating intervention in the addiction process, educating and facing denial. The other phase requires individual assistance with at least twelve programs, avoidance plan, relapse, prevention plan, therapy, family or couple inclusion and rescue from indignity. The last phase needs an understanding of developmental concerns and biological factors.

EMDR is a psychotherapeutic method designed to address related trauma and is central to the treatment of PTSD. Cox & Howard (2007) emphasize the importance of EMDR in the treatment of individual behavioral compulsions, who see trauma as the result of sexual compulsions; therefore possible to treat. Cox & Howard (2007) argue that traumatic situations tend to create a highly compulsive connection. The use of EMDR to treat people addicted to sex and alcohol revolves around past events. On the other hand, the FSAP on behavioral compulsion suggests that compulsions are caused by the rigidity of positive feelings linked to specific individual behaviors. The connection between individual behaviors and feelings is called a feeling state. Upon activation, the feeling state activates the entire psychosociological pattern of a person. Activation is followed by inductions of uncontrolled behavior.

As with the involvement of people with compound trauma, the process is sometimes non-linear. An example is the client who relies on EMDR therapy to counteract memories that asking for help is not safe (Hase et al., 2008). Whenever it is addressed, asking for help is always safer. After that, EMDR therapy can be used in conjunction with a traditional form of communication in which one plays the role of asking for help. The event would be followed by continued use of EMDR therapy to counter existing triggers and future uncertainties regarding the problem. Having offered some support, the client might be interested in addressing an existing urge to gamble, engage in sexual activity, or even addictive shopping.


Bae, H., Han, C., and Kim, D. (2015). Trigger desensitization and emergency reprocessing for pathological gambling: a case series. Journal of Game Studies, 31(1), 331-342.

Cox, RP and Howard, MD (2007). Use of EMDR in the treatment of sexual addiction: A case study. Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, 14(1), 1-20.

Hase, M., Schallmayer, S., & Sack, M. (2008). EMDR reprocessing of addiction memory: pretreatment, posttreatment, and 1-month follow-up. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 2(3), 170-179.

O’Brien, J. M. and Abel, N. J. (2011). EMDR, addictions, and the stages of change: a roadmap for intervention. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 5(3), 121-130.

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