Embarking on the journey of therapy can be both empowering and daunting. For those considering Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, understanding what to expect is crucial for building trust in the process. This ground therapeutic approach offers a unique way to address trauma and distressing memories. In this blog, we'll explore what someone should anticipate when undergoing EMDR therapy.
1. **Initial Assessment and Treatment Planning:**
- Your EMDR journey begins with a comprehensive assessment. Your therapist will work with you to understand your history, identify target memories, and establish treatment goals.
- Together, you and your therapist will develop a roadmap for the sessions ahead.
2. **Preparation Phase:**
- Before delving into traumatic memories, the preparation phase focuses on equipping you with coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques.
- Establishing a sense of safety and trust is paramount during this stage to ensure you feel supported throughout the process.
3. **Target Memory Identification:**
- You and your therapist will pinpoint specific memories or experiences to target during EMDR sessions.
- These memories will be deconstructed into negative beliefs, associated emotions, and physical sensations.
- The heart of EMDR involves bilateral stimulation, which may include following the therapist's finger movements with your eyes or other forms of rhythmic stimulation.
- As you focus on the target memory, the goal is to reduce the emotional charge and facilitate the processing of the memory.
5. **Installation of Positive Beliefs:**
- Building on the progress made during desensitization, positive beliefs about yourself and the future are identified.
- You'll work on integrating these positive beliefs while thinking about the previously distressing memory.
6. **Body Scan:**
- Acknowledging and addressing any remaining physical tension or discomfort associated with the target memory is essential.
- Bilateral stimulation aids in the processing and reduction of residual physical sensations.
- Each session concludes with a focus on stabilizing your emotional state.
- Your therapist will reinforce coping strategies and offer guidance on self-care between sessions.
8. **Re-evaluation and Ongoing Sessions:**
- Subsequent sessions involve re-evaluation of progress and addressing any new memories or issues that arise.
- The EMDR process may be repeated as needed for different target memories.
By Ben Lea, RMN, CBT & EMDR Therapist, Congleton