EMDR therapy combines different elements to maximize treatment effects. In my treatment of trauma with EMDR, I utilize the theory, sequence of treatment, and research on protocols and active mechanisms as developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro and outlined in her clinical manual, Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Basic principles, protocols and procedures, which is the gold standard for this type of psychotherapy.

EMDR involves attention to three time periods: the past, present, and future. Focus is on past disturbing memories and related events, current situations that cause distress, and the development of skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions. With EMDR therapy, these items are addressed using an eight-phase treatment approach.

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The first phase is a history-taking session. The therapist assesses the client's readiness and develops a treatment plan. Client and therapist identify possible targets for EMDR processing. These include distressing memories and current situations that cause emotional distress. Other targets may include related incidents in the past. Emphasis is placed on the development of specific skills and behaviors that will be needed by the client in future situations.

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During the second phase of treatment, the therapist ensures that the client has several different ways of handling emotional distress. The therapist may teach the client a variety of imagery and stress reduction techniques the client can use during and between sessions. A goal of EMDR is to produce rapid and effective change while the client maintains equilibrium during and between sessions.

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In phases three to six, a target is identified and processed using EMDR procedures.

The therapist assists the client in identifying three things:
1. The vivid visual image related to the memory
2. A negative belief about self
3. Related emotions and body sensations.

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In phase seven, closure, the therapist asks the client to keep a log during the week. It serves to remind the client of the self-calming activities that were mastered in phase two. The next session begins with phase eight. Phase eight consists of examining the progress made thus far and returning to a previous phase, as needed.

Need EMDR treatment? Call Dr. Z for an appointment at (678) 554-5632 or fill out the online appointment request