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What Are The 8 Phases Of EMDR Therapy?

What if we told you there’s a form of therapy that’s more about eye and hand movements than talking? How about if we added that it takes relatively few sessions and has a stellar success rate? You’d surely be curious and we would surely be talking about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).

EMDR is renowned for its effectiveness with trauma survivors and is now being used for an increasing number of issues. Using eye and hand movement to induce n REM-like state has been found to create a safe space for processing negative memories and thought patterns. With this in mind, let’s explore the 8 phases of EMDR Therapy.

The 8 Phases of EMDR Therapy

Phase 1: History Taking/Treatment Planning

As might be expected, EMDR begins with some fundamental conversations between therapist and client. It is essential that trust is created and underlying issues are examined. Part of this process involves taking a history of the client to ascertain what led them to this point.

Phase 2: Preparation

EMDR is an unusual and unexpected form of therapy. The client will surely want an explanation of what to expect. During Phase 2, questions and concerns are dealt with head-on. Once the client feels comfortable with what they have learned, the specific EMDR techniques are explained. This gives the client a sense of being prepared for the treatment.

Phase 3: Assessment

Here is where the nuts and bolts start to kick in. A hallmark of EMDR is choosing a “target event.” This means the client and therapist collaborate to choose what event, thought, or memory is to be reprocessed. Subjective baseline measures are set and will be referred to later.

Phase 4: Desensitization

This is where the preprocessing commences. Your therapist uses side-to-side eye movements, sounds, or taps while you focus on the target event. This procedure is repeated until your subjective baseline measure of trauma or stress is reduced to zero.

photo of a teenage boy with his back turned towards camera against a blurred out backgroundPhase 5: Installation

In Phase 4, you were desensitized to the negative memory. Phase 5 is where you “replace” that negative sensation with something very positive. While the therapist uses the same techniques mentioned above, the client focuses on a positive belief until it feels completely true.

Phase 6: Body Scan

To wrap up the reprocessing section, the client will next hold two things in mind at once. There’s the fully processed target event and there’s the new positive belief. You’ll be guided through a full body scan to discern if any disturbances are still lingering. If so, they are reprocessed.

Phase 7: Closure

After such a powerful and intense experience, Phase 7 eases you into a feeling of safety and closure. With help from the therapist, you calmly transition back into the present moment. Subjective baseline measures are set again.

Phase 8: Reevaluation

This phase begins in the next session. It is an important way to gauge a client’s state of mind and body before more reprocessing is done. Through discussion and subjective baseline measures, distress level and positive cognition are assessed. It is in Phase 8 that the client and therapist decide together as to what the new target event will be.

Is EMDR the Right Choice For You?

EMDR Therapy helps you create enough distance from a potentially traumatic memory to process and resolve it without being triggered. It does so, most often, in just 6 to 12 sessions. The results are measurable and long-lasting.

If this sounds like something you would like to explore, we invite you to reach out for more information. Let’s connect for a free and confidential consultation for EMDR Therapy.

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