Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing

"[EMDR] therapy is based on the idea that negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors are the result of unprocessed memories. The treatment involves standardized procedures that include focusing simultaneously on (a) spontaneous associations of traumatic images, thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, and (b) bilateral stimulation that is most commonly in the form of repeated eye movements. Like CBT with a trauma focus, EMDR aims to reduce subjective distress and strengthen adaptive beliefs related to the traumatic event. Unlike CBT with a trauma focus, EMDR does not involve (a) detailed descriptions of the event, (b) direct challenging of beliefs, (c) extended exposure, or (d) homework (p.1)"

- World Health Organization (2013)

Overview

  • Integrative Psychotherapeutic Approach

  • Bottom-Up Processing

  • Bilateral Stimulus (i.e. movements or tapping)

  • 8 Phases

    • Client History​

    • Preparation

    • Assessment

    • Desensitization

    • Installation

    • Body Scan

    • Closure 

    • Re-evaluation

  • EMDR is not hypnosis

Standard three-Pronged protocol

Clear away past disturbance

Improve present and 

Future functioning 

Imagine if trauma was a physical wound: 

EMDR would stop the bleeding, clean the wound, allow it to heal, and learn to appreciate the scar.

What's Trauma

Often when we mention trauma, we think of intense experiences like war or a tragic accident. Less of often, do we acknowledge the very real impact of subtle traumas. 

In short, trauma is any experience that leaves a scar on your heart or threatens your nervous system. 

Simple trauma is a single incident, such as a car accident. Complex trauma is many or continued traumatic experiences. Both simple & complex trauma affect our functioning in the world. 

Trauma can be experienced consciously or subconsciously. Trauma can be directly experienced or witnessed. 

Resources

For more information, visit The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA)