What is EMDR?

In an attempt to help you understand EMDR I have obtained the following information from the Emdria web site. You can look at this site for additional information. http://www.emdria.org/?2  I have completed the EMDR basic training and I am in the certification process. The basic EMDR training allows me to perform the EMDR treatment process with clients. However, the certification process provides additional training and consultation as I expand my knowledge and ability to use EMDR with my clients.  If you would like to be referred to a certified EMDR therapist please let me know, or you can locate them on the site indicated above.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. Below is a Brief Description of EMDR Therapy.

Complete treatment involves a three pronged protocol (1-past memories, 2-present disturbance, 3-future actions). This three pronged protocol is needed to alleviate the symptoms and address the complete clinical picture.

The goal of EMDR therapy is two-fold 1) to completely process the experiences that are causing problems and 2) to include new ones that are needed for full health. "Processing" does not mean talking about it. "Processing" means setting up a learning state that will allow experiences that are causing problems to be "digested" and stored differently in your brain. That means that what is useful to you from an experience will be learned and stored allowing it to guide you in positive ways in the future. The negative, harmful, and/or emotionally/physically painful emotions, beliefs, and body sensations are replaced with more positive, helpful and/or less emotionally/physically painful ones.

Negative emotions, feelings and behaviors are generally caused by unresolved earlier experiences that are pushing you in the wrong directions. The goal of EMDR therapy is to leave you with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives that will lead to healthy and useful behaviors and interactions.

Phases of EMDR

The EMDR treatment process occurs through a series of 8 phases:

Phase 1: History and Treatment Planning

Generally takes 1-2 sessions at the beginning of therapy, and can continue throughout the therapy, especially if new problems are revealed. In the first phase of EMDR treatment, the therapist takes a thorough history of the client and develops a treatment plan. This phase will include a discussion of the specific problem that has brought him into therapy, behaviors stemming from that problem, and symptoms. With this information, the therapist and client will develop a treatment plan that defines the specific targets on which to use EMDR. These targets include the event(s) from the past that created the problem, the present situations that cause distress, and the key skills or behaviors the client needs to learn for his future well-being.

One of the unusual features of EMDR is that the person seeking treatment does not have to discuss the details of disturbing memories. So while some individuals are comfortable, and even prefer, giving specifics, other people may present more of a general picture or outline. When the therapist asks, for example, "What event do you remember that made you feel worthless and useless?" the person may say, "It was something my brother did to me." That is all the information the therapist needs to identify and target the event with EMDR.

Phase 2: Preparation

For most clients this will take only 1-4 sessions. For clients with a complex or very traumatic background this may take longer. During this phase you will learn some specific techniques which will allow you to rapidly deal with any emotional disturbance that may arise. When you can do that it is typically time to proceed to the next phase. During the Preparation Phase, I will continue to explain and answer any questions you may have about EMDR. You will learn a variety of relaxation techniques so you can calm yourself should you experience any emotional disturbance during or after a session.

Phase 3: Assessment

During this phase I will used a standardized protocol to help identify individual “target(s)” to process. Processing does not always mean talking about the issue/memory or experience.

1) I will guide you to identify a specific picture or scene from the target event - which was identified during Phase One. 2) I will guide you to choose a statement that expresses a negative self-belief you associate with the event. Common negative beliefs include statements such as "I am helpless," "I am worthless," "I am unlovable," "I am dirty," "I am bad," etc. 3) I will guide you to identify a positive self-statement that you would rather believe. This statement should incorporate an internal sense of control such as "I am worthwhile/ lovable/ a good person/ in control", "I can succeed" or "I am safe now." The positive belief should reflect what is actually appropriate in the present.

At this point, I will to you to rate how true your positive belief feels to you using a 1 - 7 scale in which "1" equals "completely false," and "7" equals "completely true."

I will then ask you to rate the negative emotions and physical sensations you associate with the target event using a 0 – 10 in which 0 indicates no disturbance related to emotions/physical sensation associated with the target event and10 indicating the worst feeling/physical sensation associated with the target event you’ve ever had.

Reprocessing for a single target event may happen in as little as one session with reprocessing of a single uncomplicated trauma generally taking 3 sessions + - .

Phases One through Three lay the groundwork for the comprehensive treatment and reprocessing of specific targeted events.

Phase 4: Desensitization

This phase will focus on your disturbing emotions and sensations including other memories, insights and associations that may arise as the targeted event changes and its disturbing elements are resolved. During desensitization, I will lead you through sets of bilateral stimulation with the goal of reducing the level of distress you associate to the negative event. I will guide you through out the bilateral stimulation to rate your level of distress as associated to the event.

Phase 5: Installation

During this phase we will concentrate on and strengthen a positive belief to replace the original negative belief. Using a series of bilateral stimulation we work towards the goal of full acceptance of the full truth of your positive self-belief.

Phase 6: Body scan

After supporting you in strengthening your positive belief and it has been strengthened installed through the bilateral stimulation I will ask you to bring the original negative event to mind at which time I will ask you if you are noticing any residual negative body sensations. If so, then we will target these through the bilateral stimulation.

Evaluations of thousands of EMDR sessions indicate that there is a physical response to unresolved thoughts. This finding has been supported by independent studies of memory indicating that when a person is negatively affected by trauma, information about the traumatic event is stored in motoric (or body systems) memory, rather than narrative memory, and retains the negative emotions and physical sensations of the original event. When that information is processed, however, it can then move to narrative (or verbalizable) memory and the body sensations and negative feelings associated with it disappear.

The ultimate goal of the EMDR session is for you to be able to bring up the original target without feeling body tension. Positive self-beliefs are important, but they have to be believed on more than just an intellectual level.

Phase 7: Closure

Closure happens at the end of every treatment session. This ensures that you leave each session feeling stable and likely better than you did at the beginning of the session. We may not be able to full process an event in a single session. Since this is often the case we will save time at the end of each session during which I will guide you to use the previously learned self-calming techniques. We will discuss how you can handle any new material that may come up in between sessions and I will encourage you to continue to use the self-calming techniques between sessions. It is often helpful to use a journal in between session to record anything that comes up.

Phase 8: Reevaluation

We will re-evaluate during subsequent sessions.  At that time I will ask you about the positive results of the processing using the rating scales which we used previously. This phase will guide any future therapy sessions we may have.

Treatment is complete once the EMDR has focused on the past memories that are contributing to the presenting problem and the present situations that are disturbing as well as skills you may need for the future.

What kind of problems can EMDR treat?

What kind of problems can EMDR treat?

Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post traumatic stress.  However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions:

·        Panic attacks

·        Complicated grief

·        Disturbing memories

·        Phobias

·        Performance anxiety

·        Stress reduction

.       Childhood abuse, neglect, abandonment