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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy scientifically proven to help people recover from trauma or negative life experiences. This includes post traumatic stress disorder such as military combat, first responder incidents, physical assaults, rape, vehicle accidents, and man made or natural disasters.

Additionally, EMDR can be an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders and phobias. Phobias include; dog phobia, jelly fish phobia, snake phobia, flight phobia, travel phobia, operating a motor vehicle, vomiting phobia, choking phobia, wasp phobia, height phobia and affect phobia for someone who does not want to under go EMDR, blood injection injury phobia, dental phobia, other medical phobias, social phobias, agoraphobia, and mental irrational future feared phobias. Trauma is subjective.










8 Phases of EMDR

Phase 1 is History and Treatment Planning:

Phase 1 can take up to 1-2 session or more depending on the person’s history. This will help the therapist develop a treatment plan and know what items to target. A time line can be used to identify incidents to process. EMDR does not force the person to talk about their disturbing memories in detail. In fact EMDR processing can be completed in complete silence as long as the person can rate the subjective units of disturbance (SUDS) and rate the validity of the adaptive cognition. 


Phase 2 Preparation:

Phase 2 can take 1-4 sessions depending on the trauma or diagnoses of the person and allows the therapist to teach new coping techniques to ensure the person can handle any emotional disturbances that may arise in or outside of session. Phase 2 allows for a therapeutic relationship to be established between the person and the therapist. Additionally, the therapist will provide education regarding how EMDR works by explaining the adaptive information protocol.


Phase 3 Assessment:

The therapist can help the patient identify the disturbing event and create a mental picture of the memory or incident. EMDR can work on a person with aphantasia. A maladaptive thought is then selected associated with the traumatic event and focused on. An adaptive thought is selected to use to represent the present. The therapist then asks the person to rate the validity of the cognition when thinking back to the disturbing event. Emotions are identified and the person will complete a mental scan of their body to identify any disturbing body sensations. Then the Subjective Units of Disturbance scale is completed. EMDR will lower the subjective units of disturbance and increase the validity of the adaptive thought.

Phase 4 Desensitization:

This is done by the therapist through eye movements, taps or sounds. This occurs until the subjective units of disturbance is a 0. During this process the person will experience other associations connected to the memory.


Phase 5 Installation:

The therapist will assist the individual focus and strengthen the adaptive thought and measure the validity of the cognition.

Phase 6 Body Scan:

The therapist will ask the individual to mentally scan their entire body and determine if there are any negative body sensations. If so, the body disturbance is targeted and processed until it is gone.


Phase 7 Closure:

A guided mindfulness technique is used to close each session. A log is provided to document any new thoughts, insights, or changes.


Phase 8 Reevaluation:

At each new session the therapist checks in to reevaluate the treatment plan and make changes as needed.


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