The Eight Stages of EMDR Therapy
My EMDR Therapy is a process that a client must commit to. Through observation of how she/he was processing their own traumatic memories, Shapiro proposed that following a structured eight-step treatment protocol would reduce the emotional disturbance caused by traumatic memories or imagined memories.
This course usually takes twelve sessions. Here is what to expect from each:
Stage 1: Treatment Rundown
The first stage of EMDR Therapy is where I review your history and establish at what stage you are in the treatment process. I will need to identify the key traumatic memories that you want to counteract specifically. This evaluation is an opportunity for me to discuss with you what to expect, how to express your concerns if you ever have any, and for us to essentially get to know each other a bit more, especially if you’re new to therapy.
Stage 2: Prepare Your Mind
Before we begin to uncover any emotions that you’ve been bottling up, I will need to ensure that you’re fully prepared for what’s to come. I will teach you several coping strategies to help you handle with the emotional or psychological stress that you’re experiencing, and will experience further.
Whether that is through breathing exercises or practising mindfulness, we can work together to ensure that your treatment plan is working to predominantly relieve these feelings.
Stage 3: Assessing Your Memories
In the next stage, I will need to dig deeper into the specific memories that you want to target, and also any triggers that take your mind back to those experiences. I will then need you to describe the physical sensations that are stimulated when you focus on these events for each individual target memory.
Clients with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) regularly report intense emotions and physical sensations comparable to those experienced during the actual trauma. This is because the traumatic memory was improperly processed at the time, and then stored in memory in an incomplete way. This is a consequence of the body’s natural coping mechanism being overwhelmed at the time of the traumatic event.
Unprocessed memories, and accompanying sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings stored in the memory can be accessed and activated unexpectedly each time someone with PTSD experiences something that triggers a recollection of the original event. By finding out the core of these emotions, it’ll give me a better understanding of the issue at hand and how we can make peace with it.
Stage 4-7: The Treatment Itself
In the next stages of EMDR, you will begin the treatment process. EMDR Therapy techniques are designed to target traumatic events, so we can work together to minimise the impact on your mental wellbeing. During each session, I will ask you to focus on a specific negative thought, memory or image that you disclosed previously.
While doing so, I will simultaneously ask you to follow specific eye movements; whether that be through following an object, sound or instruction, the bilateral stimulation is specific to your needs. Online EMDR involves the client ‘butterfly hug’
method for bilateral stimulation; requiring you to cross your arms over your chest and
tap your arms in an alternating rhythm.
Once we have accessed the event that I asked you to focus on, I will then ask you to let your mind go blank, and focus on the thoughts and feelings that you’re intensely experiencing afterwards. If this then leads you to another event, I may then ask you to concentrate on that or move onto the next event.
Stage 8: Your Evaluation
In the last stage of your EDMR Therapy, I will ask you to evaluate the progress that you’ve made with me before I do the same. It’s important to be as in-depth and truthful as possible during your evaluation so that we can talk about the next steps of your therapy journey.
The Science Behind EMDR Therapy
My aim is to identify the root cause of any issue and deliver results as effectively as possible. EMDR Therapy is an innovative and focused approach approved by the NHS and WHO (World Health Organisation) as a clinically proven treatment for PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
EMDR Therapy has been scientifically proven to desensitise the axis and cortexes of the brain that cause stress through an interactive psychotherapy technique. This process alleviates the stress associated with past trauma and PTSD. Traumatic experiences that can lead to PTSD include assault, domestic violence, rape, combat stress, childhood abuse, adult abuse, traumatic birth experiences, extreme illnesses, road traffic accidents and natural disorders.
EMDR can also work effectively with other non-traumatic psychological issues which present in therapy, including panic attacks, phobias, blocked grief, anxiety-related issues and depression.
Developed by Francine Shapiro, EMDR is a complex method of psychotherapy that enables patients to focus on emotionally disturbing material in a manageable way while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus.
Thus, your emotional stability is levelled, and you will eventually be able to be fully exposed to the memories after teaching your mind to not respond with strong psychological reactions. The impact will feel less intense and more manageable. This is an especially beneficial type of therapy for those who struggle to speak about past trauma.
EMDR therapy for anxiety has also been known to be highly successful for depression, panic attacks, eating disorders and addictions that have all been caused by previous events.
EMDR Therapy For You
Although the stages of EMDR Therapy are very much standard, they are developed and employed to suit each and every one of my clients. No treatment plan is the same; everyone has their own boundaries and needs, and it is my job to identify these so that I can give you the best therapeutic service that will make a permanent difference to your headspace and life.
EMDR Therapy can cause distress and disconnection, but while this is a possibility, the bigger picture is a lot calmer and controlled. If you do, however, become overwhelmed or extremely uncomfortable in a session, I will always bring you back to the present before moving on. Then, as we work through the stages together, you will begin to notice that your negative emotions and thoughts associated with past trauma will gradually fade.
EMDR facilitates proper processing of the traumatic memory, making it easier to manage. Common benefits of EMDR include a reduction in re-experiencing traumatic memories, reduced emotional distress, reduced hypervigilance, reduced depression, hopelessness and isolation, and increased contentment from activities and relationships.
Please take note that the dangers of EMDR Therapy are minimal. It’s considered a safe alternative to prescribed medications, and therefore, has next to no side effects. The impact of EMDR can however leave you with a heightened level of awareness post-treatment, which can leave a light-headed sensation and cause you to dream vividly.
EMDR Therapy Online
Looking for EMDR Therapy near you? While I am based near Warrington, I can also offer EMDR Therapy sessions online. This virtual environment may help you to feel more at ease and comfortable as it carried out within your own home.
If you feel a new setting would benefit you instead, I would be happy to welcome you for sessions. This option allows you to combine an unfamiliar environment with a new chapter of your life which can work hand in hand.
EMDR therapy won’t change your mindset overnight, that is why all the stages must be carried out to see the full benefits. All I ask from you throughout is complete transparency so that I can stay confident that you’re on the right track to recovery.
As an accredited BACP counsellor/psychotherapist and EMDR Europe practitioner (accredited training to Level 3), I offer Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) as a sole therapeutic option for clients as a separate course of treatment or in conjunction with talking therapy to address your issues in the most time-efficient and effective way possible.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy) – £70 for a 50-minute session.
Please note that fees are reviewed annually in July.