EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a treatment procedure that is widely accepted and used in clinical settings. Francine Schapiro originally developed this procedure for alleviating post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but now it is used in a wide variety of situations like phobias, anxiety, pain management, compulsive disorders, and other traumas.
EMDR is typically provided 1 to 2 times a week for 6 to 12 sessions. EMDR involves eight phases of treatment that focus on the past, the present, and the future. Each phase helps you work through emotional distress and then learn skills to cope with current and future stress.
Phase One: History and Treatment Planning.
The first phase of EMDR involves getting your complete history. A detailed history helps me to evaluate your readiness and any secondary gains that might be maintaining your current problem. By analysing the ineffective behaviours, symptoms and specific characteristics, together we decide the suitable targets for treatment and the order in which they will be addressed. We take this information to design a treatment plan. History taking evaluates the entire clinical picture including the dysfunctional or ineffective behaviours, symptoms and other characteristics that need to be addressed.
Phase Two: Preparation
The second phase is called Preparation. In this phase wedevelop stop signals to provide a sense of control during treatment sessions. The preparation phase also includes developing our therapeutic relationship, providing you with a brief understanding of the theory of MDR in the procedures and involves, and training you in a variety of self regulation techniques that would help you deal with disturbing information that may arise during and between sessions.
Phase Three: Assessment
The third phase is assessment, in which we together identify the memory to be targeted for that particular session. I help you to focus on the most salient image associated with this memory, to understand the negative beliefs associated with it, and the positive beliefs which would be more effective. Emotions and physical sensations associated with the traumatic memory are also brought to the surface to form a complete representation of the distressing memory.
Phase Four: Desensitization
The fourth desensitization phase involves engaging the disturbing event to change the sensory experiences and associations. In this phase, you are asked to hold both the target image, the emotions, the negative belief and sensations while engaging in bilateral eye movement, tactile taps, or auditory tones. After each set, I have you clear your mind and discuss any insights, thoughts, memories, feelings, or images that come to mind. If you’re still experiencing negative sensations, they become the focus of the next set. This process continues until the target memory no longer distress as you.
Phase Five: Installation
The fifth stage, installation, strengthens the positive beliefs you identified in phase 3. When you are no longer experiencing distress related to the target memory, we will begin to focus on the positive belief. Well thinking of the target memory and positive belief. We will go through another more bilateral stimulation sets.
Phase Six: Body Scan
The sixth phase involves a body scan where you are asked to focus on any residual physical response that may be related to the target event and the positive belief. The purpose of this is to identify any residual distress. We target this body sensation for further processing with bilateral stimulation sets.
Phase Seven: Closure
The seventh phase of closure is used to and each session. This is a time to discuss the positive gains you have made and how to keep them going on a daily basis. It’s helpful to maintain a record of any disturbances that come up between sessions to use these targets if necessary for future sessions.
Phase Eight: Re-evaluation
Re-evaluation is the eighth phase, which begins every new session. We will discuss your current psychological state, whether you are able to maintain your gains and use your self regulation techniques. We may also check out additional targets.
How does EMDR work
traumatic memories produce an imbalance in the brain. Our normal adaptive responses are prevented which would ordinarily bring the situation to a resolution. The traumatic memory remains active in its original anxiety producing form and intrudes into our mind and behaviour. Neural balance takes place and restoration happens when I movements are (induced) along with the image and beliefs associated with the traumatic memory. This helps in resolution of information processing regarding the traumatic event, resulting in a change in picture, cognitive belief and anxiety level. EMDR therapy focuses directly on the specific traumatic memory to change the way it is stored in the brain
Who can benefit from EMDR?
EMDR is used to treat a variety of conditions including:
Things to Consider
EMDR is considered safe with relatively few side effects. Though it can be effective, there are some possible pitfalls of this approach:
Heightened awareness: You might experience a high level of emotion or physical sensation that lasts beyond your therapy session. Some people report experiencing unpleasant dreams while they begin to reprocess traumatic events.
Potential for retraumatization: If EMDR is not used appropriately, it can leave people feeling retraumatized. It is very important to keep a record of between session feelings and bring them up at the next session.
Requires multiple sessions: It may take a while to see positive effects. For some, this may become a financial barrier.
Thinking about traumatic events can be distressing, particularly at the beginning of therapy. Work with your therapist to find ways to cope with your feelings as you go forward with therapy. It is helpful to keep a record of any disturbances that come up between sessions to use these targets if necessary for future sessions.