What is an EMDR session like?

An EMDR session is quite different to that of a regular counselling session. However, as a starting point, it is still essential to take a comprehensive history (1-2 sessions)  before this processing commences. Typically there are eight phases of treatment:

Phase 1: History and Treatment Planning (1-2 sessions)

Phase 2: Preparation (1-4 sessions)

People with acute trauma histories may require more sessions. During this phase you will be taught specific techniques to cope with emotional disturbance that might arise during processing.

Phase 3: Assessment.

You will select a specific scene or picture from the target event that best represents the memory. Negative beliefs associated with the event(s) are isolated and processed and positive beliefs or preferred beliefs are put forward.

Phase 4: Desensitisation.

This phase focuses on any disturbing emotions and sensations as they are measured by the SUDS (Subjective Units of Discomfort Scale) rating . The aim of this phase is to reduce the SUDS to below 2.

Eye to the world

Phase 5: Installation.

In this phase the goal is to concentrate on and increase the strength of the positive belief that you have identified to replace the original negative belief.

Phase 6: Body Scan.

Following acceptance of the positive belief after it has been strengthened and installed, I will ask you to refocus on the original target event and notice whether there are any residual feelings of tension in your body. An EMDR session isn’t considered to be successful until you can bring up the original target without feeling any physical tension.

Phase 7: Closure.

I will ensure that you leave the session feeling better than you did at the start. I will teach you a variety of techniques to help you feel calm and contained.

Phase 8: Re-evaluation.

At the commencement of every new session we will check to see whether resolution has been maintained. We may need to engage in further processing of targets or associated memories if you are still experiencing discomfort.

The amount of time it takes to complete treatment will depend upon your history but it is generally agreed that EMDR is much quicker than conventional Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or Exposure Therapy. Though you may feel a sense of relief, even after the first session of processing, it is important to complete the eight phases of treatment.

During processing I will draw my chair into a passing cars position facing you. I will hold up my fingers at a comfortable distance from your face and ask you to follow them with your eyes for a few sets. It takes a little time to become accustomed to this process but most people manage well. Occasionally I may use tapping on your hands or knees instead of eye movements. There is no use of any light bar devices in this process.

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