Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychological treatment that involves stimulation of both sides of the brain to help people cope with and overcome difficult situations from the past and develop skills for the future. When a patient recalls a traumatic memory while undergoing bilateral stimulation, the painful or intrusive effects of the memory are reduced. Therefore, EMDR is focused on reducing and eliminating symptoms by changing the way the memory is stored within the brain.
Did You Know?
EMDR therapy does not erase traumatic memories. Rather, it eliminates the fight, flight, or freeze response associated with the memory to allow for healing. Nothing will remove a memory but EMDR is designed to help memories of painful events become much less distressing.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What can EMDR be used to treat?
EMDR is used to treat various conditions, however it is most commonly used in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To learn more about how EMDR can help you, schedule a consultation with our team at Transitions Counseling in Glendale, Chandler, Phoenix, or Mesa. Our team is also available for telehealth appointments.
What are bilateral stimulations?
Bilateral stimulations are lights or sounds, such as tapping or clicking, that are presented to help activate both sides of the brain. This helps people to process painful memories in a new way.
What can I expect when undergoing EMDR?
EMDR uses an eight-phase approach, that includes:
Phase 1: History Taking
A full history is obtained that includes target memories or triggers. Treatment goals are also discussed.
Phase 2: Preparation
The patient learns about the treatment and preparation for targeted memories are initiated by practicing the Safe/Calm Place exercises.
Phase 3: Assessment of Negative Beliefs
Negative beliefs associated with the trauma are identified. The Subjective Units of Distress (SUD) and the Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale are used to learn about the beliefs associated with painful life events and then to evaluate changes in thinking and feeling over the course of treatment. These negative beliefs are a focus of treatment during later phases of EMDR.
Phase 4: Desensitization
The participant will focus on the memory while engaging in eye movements. This will allow the memory to be reprocessed and allows for new associations to form. The participant and therapist will work together in this stage until the memory no longer causes distress.
Phase 5: Installation
In this phase, positive beliefs are associated with the target memory in order to enhance positivity and decrease any remaining distress.
Phase 6: Body Scan
The sixth phase of EMDR is the body scan. You are asked to notice your body’s reaction when you think about the painful memory. The goal is to detect any lingering distress so it can be included in treatment.
Phase 7: Closure
Closure is used to end the session in a calm place. Specific instructions and methods are used to contain painful thoughts and feelings and ensure safety until the next session.
Phase 8: Re-Evaluation
The therapist begins each new session by evaluating the participant’s psychological state to determine if the effects of the treatment lasted. They will also ask about the development of any new memories and identify targets for the session that day.
Typically, each EMDR session takes between 60-90 minutes. Most people receive EMDR 1-2 times per week for a total of 12-18 sessions.
If you are struggling with PTSD or any other condition, EMDR may be able to help. Schedule a consultation today with our team at Transitions Counseling in Glendale, Chandler, Phoenix, or Mesa.