What is EMDR?
EMDR-stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. According to the EMDR Institute, it is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed “to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories,” negative memories, and helps to improve mental health.
The idea behind EMDR is that through the process of eye movement and desensitization, the facilitation of accessing + processing of traumatic experience and memories occurs. EMDR is the theory that your mind is capable of healing from psychological trauma & injury much like your body is able to recover from physical trauma or injury.
What is the process of EMDR actually like?
The process of EMDR therapy is an eight-stage treatment:
- History Taking: This is unique to each client & therapist. In session, EMDR therapists and clients will decide together what will be most beneficial mental health issue to target through EMDR therapy and then a treatment plan will be developed.
- Preparation: In this phase, a therapist will ensure that the client undergoing the EMDR treatment has tools to handle emotional distress. Stress reduction techniques for both during and between therapy sessions will be given.
- Assessment: In this phase, a therapist and client will determine the targeting goal for the processing. When a target has been chosen, clients will decide on the visual imagery that they feel best represents the memory. From there, therapist and client will discuss the things that come along with the memory & imagery with either a negative cognition (“I am useless” or a, a positive cognition (“I am worthwhile”). The client will then rate how true these cognitions feel on a scale of 1-7, how disturbing the target is from 0-10, and finish with describing what your body has been feeling/experiencing throughout this phase.
- Desensitization: Unlike the first three phases, clients don’t talk to their therapist in this phase. Clients will receive different sets of simulations such as light taps or hearing tones, and continue moving their eyes back and forth. Clients will once again use the 0-10 scale to assess disturbance levels.
- Installation: This phase is called the “installation” phase because it works on “installing” the positive cognitions where the negative cognitions currently are. When clients are able to truthfully rate them at a 7 using the scale from step 3 (7 meaning they feel completely true), they then move onto the next phase.
- Body scan: In this phase, clients are asked to scan their bodies and take notice of any present tension. This includes if anything still feels ‘off” in regards to the target.
- Closure: Clients return to equilibrium. Therapists may close the session by guiding the client through self-control techniques, and can give them a plan on what to do between sessions.
- Reevaluation: This phase exists at the beginning of the next appointment, but is considered the final stage in the 8-step EMDR treatment (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy). In this phase, the therapist will circle back to what went on in the previous session and re-evaluate the client’s disturbance level.
Who does EMDR therapy help the most?
EMDR was developed to help clients with PTSD, anxiety, depression, phobias, eating disorders, substance abuse, schizophrenia, sexual dysfunction, chronic illness-related stress, disturbing experience, and traumatic events.
Do you need support in your journey to process & heal from trauma and improve your mental health? Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX can help. You can reach us at (832) 413-2410 or by filling out the form on our website. Take the time to speak with one of our therapists today.