10 January 2024
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy technique that helps people process traumatic memories. EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s and has been used to treat a variety of disorders, including PTSD, anxiety, phobias, chronic pain, and depression.
The therapy consists of eight phases. During the treatment, people recall traumatic experiences while moving their eyes back and forth. The therapist will direct this eye movement. The aim is to allow people to process and integrate these traumatic memories into their standard memories. The theory behind this method is that remembering times of distress while distracted is less upsetting. Over time, exposure to these memories should reduce their effects.
Research suggests that EMDR is a relatively safe and effective therapy. Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) recommend it for people with PTSD.
The eight phases of EMDR therapy are as follows:
During the first phase, the therapist evaluates the client’s case and formulates a treatment plan based on the person’s symptoms and the behaviors that need modifying.
In the second phase, the therapist lays the groundwork for the treatment by establishing a therapeutic relationship with the client and educating them on EMDR. They will also teach the person self-control techniques, which are ways to cope with distressing memories that arise.
During the third phase, the therapist identifies the traumatic memories that the client needs to address. The client will then choose an image to represent each memory, noting the negative beliefs and physical sensations that accompany these memories. They will then identify a positive thought to replace the negative beliefs.
The fourth phase involves desensitizing the client to the traumatic memories. The therapist will direct the client’s eye movements while they recall the traumatic event.
The fifth phase involves installing positive beliefs to replace the negative beliefs.
The sixth phase involves a body scan to ensure that the client is no longer experiencing physical sensations related to the traumatic event.
The seventh phase involves closure, which is a relaxation technique that helps the client feel safe and secure.
The final phase involves reevaluation, where the therapist and client evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.