EMDR therapy was originally designed to relieve symptoms associated with an unhealthy processing of traumatic memories. The therapy is intended to reboot the brain cells and help the brain reprocess these traumatic memories and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
8 treatment phases of EMDR therapy
1. History taking and treatment planning
The first phase involves taking a thorough medical history to identify the specific trauma affecting you, as well as its intensity and potential triggers. Your therapist will then map out treatment goals, which are prioritized for sequential processing.
Your therapist will help you talk out the problem and provide you with an overview of the treatment plan. They will explain in detail what they think is causing your symptoms and how you can start learning to process your trauma in a healthy way. They may teach you some self-control techniques (deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, etc.) to help you calm your mind and reduce your anxiety.
You and your therapist will work together to identify the target memory that triggers emotional distress:
- What incident caused the trauma? (Was it sexual assault, an accident, the death of a relative?)
- What is the most consistent image associated with the memory?
- How is the traumatic incident relevant to the present? (What is the chance it will recur?)
During this phase of EMDR therapy, a positive belief may be introduced (“You are safe now”) to help counteract the negative emotions caused by the trauma.
In this phase, the disturbing event is evaluated rationally. Your therapist will try to help you change the way your brain associates trauma with its trigger.
You will be asked to focus on an image that evokes a negative reaction while simultaneously making eye movements using bilateral stimulation. The bilateral stimulation is done in a series of sets that last around 25 seconds each. After each set of eye movements, you will be instructed to take a deep breath and asked to provide feedback on your experience during the preceding set.
Depending upon the intensity of your response to the trauma, your doctor may adjust the length, speed and type of stimulation used to cause your eye movement.
Here, your therapist will work with you to “install” a positive belief deeply into your thought process, meaning they will help you strengthen the positive belief so that it replaces the negative one. For example, if you were physically assaulted as a child, you will be helped to realize that as an adult you are capable of resisting assault.
This process will continue until your feelings of distress reduce and you experience more positive feelings after each set.
6. Body scan
After the installation phase, you will be asked to bring back the traumatic event to reevaluate it. The purpose of this is to help your therapist see whether there is any residual trauma; in other words, whether the event elicits a somatic response such as raised pulse. raised blood pressure or muscle tension. If you are still experiencing negative emotions related to the event, your therapist will continue with sessions of bilateral eye movements.
Your therapist will emphasize stress reduction techniques and ask you to maintain a record of disturbances that occur between sessions and coach you on how to manage them.
Your therapist will evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment and the need for further sessions and then plan a follow-up session if needed.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Are the 8 Phases of EMDR Therapy? Related Articles
Post-traumatic Stress DisorderPost-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric condition, can develop after any catastrophic life event. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, sweating, rapid heart rate, detachment, amnesia, sleep problems, irritability, and exaggerated startle response. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, group support, and medication.
PTSD QuizCan you have PTSD even if you've never been to war? Take the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Quiz to learn about PTSD, who gets it, and why.
PsychotherapyPsychoteraphy is often the first form of treatment recommended for depression. Psychotherapy helps depression by helping people understand the behaviors, emotions and ideas that contribute to their depression, regain a sense of control and pleasure in life, and learn coping techniques as well as problem solving skills.
Stress Management TechniquesStress may be considered as any physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental unrest and that may be a factor in disease causation. Managing stress in our lives is important. Elimination of stress is unrealistic, since stress is a part of normal life. We can however, learn to manage stress through techniques such as exercise, relaxation, meditation, time management, and support systems so that we have control over our stress and its effects on our physical and mental health.
Stress QuizStress creeps into everyone's life at one time or another, while some people will suffer from poorly managed chronic stress. If you're suffering, there are things you can do. Take the Stress Quiz to learn what you can do to beat the long-term effects of chronic stress.
What Are the Four Main Types of Psychotherapy?There are various approaches to psychotherapy. Which type of therapy will work best may vary from person to person. Therapists often use more than one type of psychotherapy approach in helping their clients. The four most common types of psychotherapy are psychoanalysis, behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy and humanistic therapy.
What Is EMDR Therapy and How Does It Work?Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is psychotherapy originally intended to treat people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).