Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a relatively new approach to trauma therapy. It was originally developed in 1987. Using eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, therapists provide support and healing for individuals who struggle to recover following trauma, including those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this blog, we’ll discuss what eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is, who can benefit from this counseling approach, and what they can expect during therapy sessions.
What Is Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy?
You will likely see eye movement desensitization and reprocess therapy referred to simply as EMDR. This approach to treating trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) utilizes bilateral stimulation to unlock memories and images associated with trauma in order to reduce the intensity of response to these memories and enable the person to fully process the memories without entering a heightened state of emotional, mental, or physical response that makes this healing work difficult or impossible.
Who Should Consider EMDR Therapy?
EMDR therapy is used almost exclusively to support individuals who are recovering from trauma or PTSD. However, in recent years, EMDR has proven to be beneficial in addressing a wide range of concerns, including:
- General trauma recovery
- Childhood and complex trauma
- Disordered eating
- Addiction and compulsivity
- Chronic physical and psychological pain
- Grief disorders
What Happens During EMDR Therapy Sessions?
The therapist and client will move through EMDR therapy sessions in ways that feel natural and will offer the most benefit. However, like other approaches to addressing trauma, EMDR is a relatively systematic way of resolving trauma response.
Over the course of therapy sessions, the therapist should help the client move through the following eight phases of treatment:
- Phase 1 – History and treatment planning – the therapist gathers information about the past and present experience and works with the client to plan EMDR treatment.
- Phase 2 – Preparation – the therapist describes the EMDR process in greater detail, and they may practice EMDR together to get used to the process.
- Phase 3 – Assessment – this is the process of identifying the memory that will be accessed and processed using EMDR and set a baseline of response to determine improvement after EMDR therapy sessions.
- Phase 4 – Desensitization – he client focuses on a specific memory while engaging in bilateral stimulation. This continues until the client reports the effect of the memory is diminished or they feel desensitized to it.
- Phase 5 – Installation – the negative effect and response to memories is replaced with a positive or preferred response.
- Phase 6 – Body scan – the client carefully considers the way thinking of the memory is impacting their physical body.
- Phase 7 – Closure – this ends the session. If the pinpointed memory is resolved within the session, it offers the client an opportunity to share any final thoughts about the memory. If the memory will need to be processed during further sessions, the therapist helps the client achieve a state of containment until the next session.
- Phase 8 – Evaluation of results – at the start of the next session, the previous memory is reevaluated to ensure the desired results are maintained. The treatment plan is adjusted as necessary to meet the client’s needs.
This may seem like a lengthy process, but actually, these phases of treatment can typically be moved through relatively quickly. Individuals who would have needed years to even begin discussing memories of traumatic events can access these memories and process them in significantly less time with EMDR therapy.
Schedule a Session at LMV Counseling
Whether you’re interested in starting EMDR therapy sessions or you just know you want to feel better and move forward after trauma, we hope you’ll call the LMV Counseling team at (910) 210-6160, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or take a few moments to complete our online scheduling request form. Let us know that you would like to learn more about and explore the benefits of EMDR.