The Impact of Healing Trauma through EMDR

The Impact of Healing Trauma through EMDR

Categories: EMDR | Tips

(PTSD), as well as other psychiatric, mental health disorders, and somatic symptoms. It’s intended to treat psychological disorders to alleviate suffering and to assist individuals to reach their potential for development. EMDR is a comprehensive and safe way to alleviate the effects of trauma while allowing the client stability effectively and efficiently during the process.

Through EMDR, there is a resolution of traumatic and disturbing adverse life experiences that is accomplished through Bilateral Stimulation (BLS). This process activates the components of the memory of disturbing life events and incorporates new adaptive information processing and integration. EMDR facilitates the effective reprocessing of traumatic events or adverse life experiences and associated beliefs, to form a resolution that is adaptive. Specific procedural steps are used to access and reprocess information which incorporates bilateral stimulation. 

The treatment procedures facilitate information processing. EMDR consists of eight phases which optimize client stabilization before, during, and after reprocessing distressing and traumatic memories and associated stimuli. The EMDR approach is intended to facilitate the client’s innate ability to heal. During the reprocessing phase, therapist intervention is kept to a minimum which is necessary for continuity of information reprocessing.

Phase One of EMDR is history taking. The therapist creates a treatment plan with attention placed on past and present experiences and future issues. Additionally positive aspects of the client’s personality and life experiences are identified.

Phase Two is the Preparation Phase where the therapist will explain the therapeutic framework of EMDR with the client giving sufficient information. In this phase, the client will develop skills in self- soothing and regulation that will be needed during the reprocessing phase, as well as in between sessions.

Phase Three the therapist identifies the issue to be addressed. Once the memory, or issue has been established, the therapist will ask the client to identify a negative belief that expresses the currently held belief that is associated with the related experience. Then the client will identify a positive belief that they wish to associate with the memory.

Phase Four is when the memory is activated, and the therapist asks the client to notice any experiences while the therapist applies BLS. After each set of BLS, the therapist will ask the client what they are observing.

Phase Five is the Installation Phase. Here the therapist first asks the client to check for a new potential positive belief related to the target memory. If there is no new positive belief, then the original positive belief will continue to be used during this phase. BLS will continue during this phase to install this positive belief.

Phase Six is Body Scan where the therapist asks the client to hold in mind both the target memory and the positive belief and mentally scan the body. The therapist continues BLS.

Phase Seven occurs at the end of each session in which an unprocessed, disturbing material has been activated and if the memory has been fully processed or not. It is important to note that reprocessing still occurs between sessions, therefore, it is important that the client is committed to successive weekly sessions as things that come up in between sessions can be discussed and addressed as needed.

Phase Eight is the last phase and is the reevaluation phase. The therapist assesses the previous reprocessing of targets and is looking for any residual disturbance, new material that may have come up, current triggers, and future challenges. If any new or residual targets are present, then the therapist will return to Phase Three and work through those issues in the very same way.

It is imperative that the client understand that EMDR is not on a set timeline, nor do these phases necessarily occur in successive order. There also is not a standard number of sessions that this process occurs. There is a common saying that the brain goes where the brain goes. Which translates to the brain will go where it needs to and when it needs to reprocess traumatic events. But it is imperative that the client knows that they are the one that is in control of this process.

EMDR has helped so many that are struggling with traumatic life events to heal and think differently about the memory they hold in their brain. It is equivalent to remembering the traumatic event without it having the negative effects occur when they are thinking about the memory.


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