Treating Addiction as Dissociation with EMDR

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This 2-Day Advanced Topics presentation provides therapists trained in EMDR the basic working tenants of the addiction as dissociation model including:

  • A different lens through which to conceptualize addiction that can help diffuse much of the cultural bias around addiction and fight stigma
  • A trauma-focused approach to treating addiction
  • Application of model for common barriers in addiction treatment



When: Thursday, October 22 and Friday 23, 2020

Time: 8:30-4:30pm (Registration opens at 8)

Cost: $195 13 EMDRIA CE (CE for LMHC, LCAT, SW…. extra $40) PENDING


160 Loomis Road

Chatham, N.Y. 12037

To register/pay: HERE

Seating is limited so please register early.

Flyer HERE

The training involves some lecture, demonstrations, and practice with your clients. This is very much an experiential training. As a part of the learning process, practicing the interventions with other participants and to be practiced on is to be expected. MUST BE FULLY TRAINED IN EMDR.

Contact Adam at

Advanced Topic Description

This presentation includes a lecture designed to explain the basic working tenants of the addiction as dissociation approach and model. A literature review and neurobiological lenses to support the contentions of the model is presented. The lecture is designed to highlight the components of the model related to memory reconsolidation as optimal for healing addiction/dissociation. The content of this presentation is designed to: (a) illuminate understanding about and conceptualization of addiction by defining it through a dissociative lens (b) equip EMDR therapists with proactive measures (as defined by Shapiro, 2018) to handle abreactions, dissociation, and other "stuck" presentations that may require cognitive interweaves, (c) foster critical thinking on how to best conceptualize difficult cases, whether they involve complex trauma/dissociation, addiction, or both.

This presentation is fully compliant with the Standard 8-Phase Protocol and the Adaptive Informational Processing Model (AIP) as written by Dr. Francine Shapiro. Applications to case conceptualization, addressing underlying shame, and addiction memory with EMDR Therapy are performed in three practicums. Decision-making insights derived from the presenters’ experience as a consultant, in the scope of the Addiction as Dissociation and the AIP models, also provided. This presentation gives EMDR therapists a different lens through which to conceptualize addiction that can hopefully diffuse much of the cultural bias around addiction. By conceptualizing addiction through the lens of dissociation/complex trauma, this presentation makes steps forward in helping to destigmatize attitudes toward people struggling with addiction.

Educational Goals:

  • To articulate the basic tenants of the addiction as dissociation model
  • To explain the model in everyday language to clients to enhance their sense of empowerment and self-efficacy in addressing addiction/dissociation/unhealed trauma.
  • To be able to apply the addiction as dissociation theory in an EMDR therapy case conceptualization within the standard 8-phase protocol and AIP model.
  • To assess dissociation in the addicted population.
  • To discuss treatment models of dissociation to help clients coping with dissociation in addiction treatment.
  • To identify 5 ways dissociation presents in addiction.
  • To implement dissociative meeting area.
  • To highlight the role of shame in addictions presentations
  • To discuss the benefits of targeting addiction memory
  • To discuss harm reduction and integrative services for clients who utilize psychedelics or have been traumatized by such experiences.

Learning/Educational Objective:

  • Describe the addiction as dissociation approach and model.
  • Name 5 ways that addiction relates to trauma and dissociation symptomology.
  • Compose a case formulation of addiction as dissociation.
  • Performed dissociative meeting area with addiction case conceptualization.
  • Setup and demonstrate the Shame: Shape and Color Set-up.
  • Setup and demonstrate the Addiction protocol to an addictive memory.
  • Utilize RDI, future templates, and re-evaluation phase to enhance treatment.
  • Using the addiction as dissociation approach, participants will be able to design the framework for intensives
  • Incorporate aspects of recovery, harm reduction, and psychedelic integration into the 8-phase protocol of EMDR Therapy.


Day 1

8:30-9:30 – EMDR Therapy and AIP model - Foundational aspects of trauma, dissociation, and addiction. Parts work and Assessment in Addiction Treatment. (Phases 1 - 3).

9:30-9:45 – Break

9:45-11 – Case formulation: Floatbacks and taking a themed client history. Dissociative Meeting Area with Case Conceptualization Demo and Debriefing (Phases 1-3).

11-12 – Supervised Practicum of Dissociative Meeting Area

12-1 – Lunch

1-1:30 – Shame Psycho-education

1:30-2:45 – Addressing Shame: Shape and Color Demo and Debriefing (Phase 4-7)

2:45-3 – Break

3-4:30 – Supervised Practicum of Shame: Shape and Color

Day 2

8:30-9:30 –Advanced aspects of trauma, dissociation, addiction, and recovery with memory reconsolidation.

9:30-9:45 – Break

9:45-10:30 –Addiction Memory Demo and Debriefing (Phase 4-7)

10:30-12 – Supervised Practicum of Addiction Memory

12-1 – Lunch

1-2:45 –RDI, Future Templates, and Re-evaluation (Phase 8)

2:45-3 – Break

3-4:30 – EMDR Therapy and Intensives, Recovery, Harm Reduction, and Psychedelic Integration.

Training Location and Details

  • Our setting is at 160 Loomis Road Chatham NY 12037 in rural Columbia County. This is at our Home Office so there is more information that you would need before you arrive.
  • Parking is available. There will be someone to direct you where to park.
  • Please bring indoor shoes/slippers if desired. We ask that you take off your shoes.
  • We are not able to accommodate everyone but we are able to make most accommodations.
  • Feel free to bring snacks and beverages. Coffee, tea, hot water, and water are available. Lunch is not provided. Downtown Chatham is only a 5-minute drive.
  • Microwave, stovetop, and fridge are available and accessible.
  • No access to public transportation.
  • Cell service is sometimes limited depending on your cellular carrier. Verizon works the best. Free Wifi is available.
  • Please be mindful of wearing strong fragrances, as others may have a sensitivity to them.
  • We burn wood for heat so if you have an adversity to fire please let us know.

Directions: MAP

From 90, take the Taconic southbound down to Exit 99 (Chatham - Rt. 203) Head East on Rt. 203 and take the immediate left after North Bound Taconic onto South Cross Road. Then take South Cross Road to Loomis Road (First right).

We are at the top of the hill of Loomis Road on the right and there is a black mailbox and a rock marked 160.

Hotels (All listed prices are season dependent)

Airbnb is an option

Cheapest and closest ($60-80 and only miles away)

Berkshire Travel Lodge

Chatham Travel Lodge

Blue Spruce Inn and Suites

Corporate ($85-150 and 12-20 miles away)

Holiday Inn Express and Suites

Best Western New Baltimore Inn

Best Western Plus Berkshire Inn and Suites

Comfort Inn - East Greenbush

Hudson ($100-200 and 12 miles away) 

St. Charles Hotel

The Barlow Hotel

BnB and Inns ($100-300)

Inn at Silver Maple Farm

Shaker Mill Inn

Red Lion Inn

If all training seats are filled, we will keep a waiting list. Refunds for training fees are only available from cancellations submitted in writing two weeks or more prior to the training. If you cancel within two weeks of the training, you will be refunded half of your tuition, and the balance can be applied to a future training. Only medically documented illness or family deaths are considered as exceptions to this policy. No-shows are not eligible for refunds.


Adam O'Brien LMHC, CASAC


Adam O’Brien LMHC, CASAC is an EMDRIA certified EMDR therapist, Approved Consultant, and EMDR trainer. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in Addiction Studies. He specializes in providing these trauma resolution therapies and trauma-focused treatment for a variety of populations and is certified in Brainspotting and trained in Progressive Counting and Deep Brain Re-orienting. Adam is beginning his public presentations on Addiction as Dissociation Model i.e., how addiction fits into the trauma-informed paradigm.