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Your Questions Answered

What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)  is therapy that encourages the client to focus briefly on the trauma memory while also experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements but physical tapping, buzzers, or audio can also be used) in which the client which the client experiences a decrease in the vividness and emotion associated with the memory being targeted. EMDR therapy is an extensively researched, evidenced based, and effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and PTSD symptoms. EMDR is also a helpful treatment for disorders such as: anxiety, depression, OCD, chronic pain, addictions, and other distressing life experiences.

This brief video provided by EMDRIA explains EMDR as a therapeutic modality as a result of one experiencing trauma.

Introduction to EMDR Therapy - YouTube

How does EMDR differ from other therapies?

EMDR is an 8 phased based therapy. It differs from traditional talk and behavioral based therapy as it does not require talking in detail about the stressor or practice assignments in-between sessions. 

8 phases of EMDR

  1. History and Treatment planning- Discussion of client history and development of a treatment plan that intends to treat the distressing events to re-process in session. Client and Therapist discuss client's current coping skills and build upon them.

  2. Preparation- Focuses on establishing a therapeutic alliance between client and therapist. EMDR therapy process is explained, and expectations of treatment are discussed. Client questions and concerns are addressed during this process. Clients work with therapist on specific techniques to come with any emotional disturbance that may arise in session.

  3. Assessment- The client is asked a series of questions that are used to identify the images, beliefs, feelings, and sensations associated with the stressor. A Subjective Units of Distress (SUD) and VOC (Validity of Cognition) are used to measure client's baseline measures.

  4. Desensitization- Bi-Lateral stimulation is introduced while the client thinks about the event being focused on. This process remains until the client has reached a SUD of 0 at least twice. New thoughts, images, feelings, and sensations emerge in this stage.

  5. Installation- The therapist and client strengthen the positive belief that the client has chosen to associate with the target event until it feels completely true by the client's report. 

  6. Body Scan- The client is asked to hold in mind both the target event and the positive belief while scanning the body. Any lingering material is processed with Bi-lateral stimulation.

  7. Closure: The therapist helps the client return to a state of calm and to the present regardless if the reprocessing is completed in session or not. Reprocessing of the event is complete when the client has reached a SUD of  'No Disturbance' and a VOC of 'Feels Completely True'.

  8. Re-evaluation- Following the session of a completed target, the client and therapist discuss the recently processed material. Therapist checks with client to make sure that the disturbance continues to be low and the positive cognition is strong. Future targets and direction of treatment is continued.

EMDR FAQ For Clients: FAQ
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