An Overview of EMDR Therapy

An Overview of EMDR Therapy

An Overview of EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. This therapy is structured to encourage patients to briefly focus on traumatic memories while eye movement stimulation is experienced simultaneously. EMDR therapy reduces the emotion and vividness associated with memories of traumatic events.

EMDR therapy was developed in the late 1980s to treat post-traumatic stress disorder patients. This therapy is characterized by 6 to 12 sessions occurring once or twice weekly. However, some people find relief from fewer sessions, and sessions can be performed on consecutive days if scheduling allows it.

How can EMDR help?

Traumatic events or memories that are not adequately processed can continually cause distress and symptoms related to PTSD and other significant mental illnesses. In addition, the symptoms of PTSD and other mental illnesses are often exacerbated by unprocessed memories containing physical sensations, beliefs, thoughts, and emotions present during the trauma experienced.

EMDR is different from many other treatments that focus on changing the thoughts, responses, and emotions from exposure to traumatic situations. Instead, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy concentrates directly on the memory of trauma. It is designed to reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with trauma exposure by changing how the patient's brain stores the traumatic memory.

It is believed that the brain is stimulated into a process of accelerated learning through the use of bilateral stimulations like eye movements. The high level of emotion and vividness of traumatic experience is reduced when patients focus briefly on the memory of the trauma and simultaneously experience bilateral stimulations. Under certain conditions, EMDR is used to treat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The EMDR Process

EMDR is a well-structured process that involves 8 phases.

  • Phase 1: History taking
    This phase of EMDR treatment involves a therapist fully understanding a patient's history and appropriately assessing the patient to determine treatment targets. Future goals, current triggers, and traumatic memories are all examples of treatment targets.
  • Phase 2: Preparation
    Preparation involves explaining the treatment process to the patient, introducing the procedures involved, and practicing the bilateral movements (typically eye movements) that EMDR requires. The therapist also equips the patient with coping resources, including a safe/calm place exercise.
  • Phase 3: Assessment
    During the assessment phase of EMDR, the target memory is activated and assessed based upon four individual memory components. Two scales are used to evaluate emotional and cognitive changes during assessment and further along in the treatment process.
  • Phase 4: Desensitization
    Memory focus and eye movements are the major components of this phase of EMDR treatment. The therapist assesses the client’s thoughts during the process, and the process will continue until the distress is eliminated from the memory.
  • Phase 5: Installation
    The installation phase is designed to strengthen the patient’s positive cognitive response to the memory target.
  • Phase 6: Body Scan
    The body scan phase involves observing a patient’s physical responses when focusing on the traumatic memory and positive cognition. This step allows the therapist to help the patient process any lingering distress.
  • Phase 7: Closure
    The session ends with the closure phase. If the session did not help fully process the memory, the patient is given straightforward techniques and instructions to contain any harmful effects and keep them safe until their next visit.
  • Phase 8: Reevaluation
    Revaluation involves an assessment of the client’s psychological state, seeing whether effects of past treatments have been maintained, determining if any new memories have come to light, and identifying the targets for the current session.

EMDR is often an effective treatment for people who are suffering from PTSD.

Contact us today for more information on EMDR therapy in Orlando. We are here to help you process trauma in a healthy and effective way so you can enjoy life to the fullest.

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(407) 592-8997

118 Pasadena Pl
Orlando, Florida 32803
Heather Oller

Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.