Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

A Very Brief Overview of EMDR Therapy

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) counseling is typically used to help clients ease the distress caused by unresolved emotions and disturbing memories due to a traumatic life experience. EMDR has been found to effectively treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, panic disorders, phobias and personality disorders. Individuals who seek EMDR therapy may have experienced overwhelming grief and loss, violence and abuse, sexual assault or substance abuse.  

This is more than talk therapy. EMDR is a mind-body therapy that helps facilitate the brain’s natural healing process by sorting, reprocessing and storing the thoughts and emotions associated with memories of a traumatic event. An EMDR specialist helps clear negative information (thoughts, beliefs and images) that are stored in the brain and manifest in the body. While the experience is still remembered after therapy, the negative responses associated with it are resolved.

EMDR Therapy in Orem, Utah

EMDR may be used as a standalone therapy or in conjunction with other treatment methods to help clients achieve their desired outcomes. At Aspen Valley Wellness, each EMDR therapist has received advanced training and supervision in this treatment method, which we employ only with clients who are at least 14 years old.

Each EMDR session generally lasts from 60 – 90 minutes, depending on the client’s history. The therapist works with the client to address past memories, present disturbances and future actions. The goal is to reprocess the experience, meaning that useful information from the event is learned and stored properly in the brain along with appropriate emotions that will guide the client in positive ways in the future.

More About EMDR Therapy *

Here’s how it works. While the client focuses on the traumatic event, the EMDR-certified therapist initiates side-to-side eye movements, taps or sounds. After each set of actions, the client is asked what comes to mind in that moment. Clients may experience changing images or feelings regarding the event. The sets of eye movements, taps or sounds are repeated until the event becomes less disturbing to the client.  

The following summarizes the eight phases of EMDR therapy treatment:

  1. History and Treatment Planning. After taking the client’s history, the therapist develops a treatment plan that considers the past event, present situations that cause distress, and skills or behaviors the client needs to learn.
  2. Preparation. The therapist establishes trust with the client, explains the process and teaches relaxation techniques that help the client self-calm during the upcoming sessions.
  3. Assessment. The client chooses an image that represents the event, a negative statement about self, and related emotions and body sensations. The client also identifies a positive self-statement that he or she would rather believe. The beliefs are rated so that results can be evaluated after sessions.
  4. Desensitization. The therapist leads the client in sets of eye movements, taps or sounds to help the client change focus until different associations emerge with the memory. In this way, the therapist guides the client to a resolution in which negative associations are resolved.
  5. Installation. During this phase, the client’s positive statement or belief is strengthened and installed, replacing the negative one. The goal is to have the client accept the positive statement as fully true.
  6. Body Scan. The client is asked to recall the original event to see whether any physical sensations still remain in the body. If so, they are targeted for reprocessing. The goal is to transfer the physical sensations to narrative memory, so that the negative feelings disappear.
  7. Closure. After each session, the client leaves feeling better than when it began. If the issue is not resolved in a single session, the client utilizes self-calming techniques and is instructed on how to prepare for the next session.
  8. Re-evaluation. At the start of each session, the EMDR therapist analyzes the success of the treatment to date and determines what is still needed — if anything — to help the client. Completing all eight phases is vital, even if the client feels better right away. The EMDR treatment processes all related historical events, current incidents that elicit distress and future events that will require different responses.

* Source: https://www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy/experiencing-emdr-therapy/

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