EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

EMDR is a type of psychotherapy used to treat people who have experienced trauma. Before EMDR, it could take years of psychotherapy to overcome a traumatic life event. With EMDR, you can heal more quickly and will experience relief from the symptoms and emotional distress caused by traumatic life experiences.

EMDR helps to remove what is blocking a persons traumatic pain and allows them to resolve the the cause of the pain.

EMDR is broken into 8 different phases. Phase 1 is the history and treatment plan, during which the clinician will spend 1-2 sessions taking a thorough history of the client’s past and creates a treatment plan. During this phase the clinician will determine the specific event(s) that need to be addressed and determine whether or not the client is ready to go through the EMDR process.

Phase 2 is the preparation phase. This usually requires 1-4 sessions with the therapist. During this phase the clinician prepares the client using different techniques to handle emotional stresses in between sessions.

Phase 3 is the assessment phase. This phase targets 3 specific things: vivid images related to traumatic memory, negative believes about one’s self and related emotions and body sensations. By focusing on a specific memory and negative thoughts, even if the client knows intellectually it is not true, they can begin to work on changing their negative thoughts into positive counter thoughts.

Phase 4 deals with desensitization and works in conjunction with phase 3. This phase targets the client’s response to the related emotions and body sensations.

Phase 5 is commonly referred to as the installation phase. This phase concentrates on changing the negative thoughts from phase 3, into positive thoughts. For example, if the client’s negative thought was “I am powerless over my attacker” they will learn to change that thought into “I am powerful.”

Phase 6 is the body scan. This phase is introduced after the client is able to establish positive self-talk. The clinician will ask the client to visualize the specific memory again and determine whether or not they have any physical reactions to the memory. It is important for the clinician to see if the client is still experiencing a negative reaction to the specific traumatic memory. .

Phase 7 is the closure phase. During this phase the clinician will have the client keep a log or journal to make sure they continue having positive reactions, not negative reactions/responses. This is also a way for the clinician to determine whether or not the client is appropriately using the calming techniques they should have mastered in phase 2.

Phase 8 is the reevaluation phase. In this phase the clinician continues to monitor the progress made from the treatment.

Extensive research has been done on the positive effects of EMDR. In recent years, there is even more research that has proven that EMDR is an effective way to treat trauma. Clinicians are using EMDR more and more in drug and alcohol treatment.