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  • EMDR

    What is EMDR?

    EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a therapeutic technique that was developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. to address trauma responses, other distressing life experiences and emotional reactions in the body.

    How is EMDR different than other types of therapies?

    Unlike traditional forms of therapy that focus on utilizing talk therapy to processing past issues, EMDR focuses on changing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors resulting from the distressing issues and aligning your brain back to its natural healing process.

    Who can benefit from EMDR therapy?

    EMDR can be helpful for children and adults of various ages. EMDR can be useful in addressing:

    • Anxiety, panic attacks, and other phobias
    • Grief and loss
    • PTSD and other traumatic experiences
    • Sexual assault
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Substance abuse and addiction
    • Violence and abuse
    • Performance anxiety
    • Eating disorders
    • Dissociative disorders
    • Depression and Bipolar

    How can EMDR help me?

    EMDR could be helpful for you if you struggle to move forward due to difficult past experiences. It helps with emotional regulation, stabilization, and provides coping strategies that you can do anywhere, anytime.

    EMDR 8 Phase Treatment

    EMDR is an 8-phase treatment, that focuses on events from the past that are impacting your present experience to help you have a more positive future.

    Phase 1: History Taking and Treatment Planning

    During this phase of treatment (which can take from 1-2 sessions) the therapist gathers information and history regarding your past and develops a treatment plan associated with specific targets and areas of disturbance.

    Phase 2: Preparation

    During the preparation phase, the therapist is providing psychoeducation on EMDR and teaching coping strategies to manage working through the traumatic memories you will be working on during EMDR. The therapist will help you understand what to expect, and how to manage distress that may come up during the process.

    Phase 3: Assessment 

    During the Assessment phase, you and your therapist are going to begin addressing a specific target or memory you would like to work on. The therapist will ask questions to create the specific target you be addressing, such as identifying the image from the target event, your negative belief about yourself connected with this event, and a positive belief you’d like to associate with this event instead. An example of a negative belief could include: I am unsafe, I am unlovable, I am not good enough, I am not in control. An example of a positive belief you might want to have regarding this event instead, could be: I am safe, I am lovable/I am worthy, I am good enough/I am okay as I am, I have control over my life.

    From there, the therapist will assess how true the positive belief feels to you now using the Validity of Cognition scale (also called the VOC). Next the therapist will assess how disturbing this event feels to you now using Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) scale. The goal of EMDR is to have the VOC as high as possible (to strongly believe the positive belief) and to bring the SUD as close to a zero as possible (the client to report no disturbance).

    Phase 4: Desensitization

    The Desensitization phase of treatment is where the reprocessing happens. The therapist will lead the client through bilateral stimulation which can be done through eye movements, taps or sounds until the target event has no disturbance (a SUD of zero).

    Phase 5: Installation 

    This phase of treatment, we focus on strengthening the positive belief associated with this particular event. For example, the memory the client may be working on is a physical abuse, with the negative belief about themselves be, “I am powerless.” During the previous phase that client will completed the work to reprocessed that event and fully realized that as an adult they are no longer in that situation and have more control and strength than they did when they were young.

    During this phase of treatment, the positive cognition, “I am now in control,” will be strengthened and installed. How deeply the person believes that positive cognition is then measured using the Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale. The goal is for the person to accept the full truth of his or her positive self-statement at a level of 7 (completely true).

    Phase 6: Body Scan 

    Once the target is fully reprocessed and the positive belief is as high as possible, we complete a body scan to determine if there are any body symptoms lingering associated with the event to ensure that event is fully reprocessed. If any physical symptoms come up, those are then targeted. If no physical symptoms come up, we move on to the next phase.

    Phase 7: Closure 

    Every EMDR session ends with Phase 7, Closure. If the processing of the event is not completed, the therapist will guide the client in using their resources and calming skills to ensure the client will leave the session regulated and ready to re-enter their day. The client is always prepared for what will be expected in the next session, and how to manage things that may come up between sessions.

    Phase 8: Reevaluation 

    Reevaluation begins every new session to assess where the client is at and determine what will be most helpful in the new session. Although clients may feel relief early in treatment, it is very important to complete all eight phases to ensure the problem is addressed as necessary, just like any treatment prescribed by a doctor.

    EMDR & Telehealth

    EMDR can be provided virtually through telehealth sessions.

    “EMDR therapy involves attention to three time periods:  the past, present, and future.  Focus is given to past disturbing memories and related events.  Also, it is given to current situations that cause distress, and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions.  With EMDR therapy, these items are addressed using an eight-phase treatment approach.”