Sometimes an experience is too traumatic or painful to process by yourself. In such a case, your therapist can help you reprocess this experience with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR). The goal of EMDR Park Slope is to help you heal from an overwhelming or traumatic experience that happened in the past. EMDR helps you reprocess the memories from the traumatic or distressing event, allowing your brain to resume a natural healing process.
EMDR therapy has eight phases over multiple sessions; one session sometimes uses parts of other phases. The number of sessions you need depends on your situation; a single disturbing event may only require three to six sessions, while more complex traumas may take eight to 12 sessions or more. The eight phases of EMDR therapy include:
1. History taking and treatment planning
For this first phase, you will discuss what brings you to therapy with your therapist. The therapist will gather information about you and your past to determine best how EMDR is likely to help you. Expect to discuss your distressing memories and your goals for this therapy. You and your therapist will develop a secure working relationship and a treatment plan based on the selection of the traumatic events that will be part of the treatment.
Here, your therapist will explain what the EMDR process entails and what to expect during the sessions. This is where your therapist will address any concerns and questions and establish a safe therapeutic alliance between you and them. With the therapist’s help, you will prepare techniques to help you manage emotions that might arise.
In this phase, you and your therapist will identify the target event and feelings, sensations, and beliefs about the event. Your therapist will help you identify negative beliefs regarding the trauma and positive beliefs you would like to believe about yourself from now on.
In the fourth phase, your therapist activates your memory by helping you identify negative thoughts, sensations, images, and feelings. New thoughts and insights may emerge during this phase.
Here, your therapist will have you focus on a positive belief; you will associate the belief with the target event until it feels completely true.
6. Body scan
You will think about the negative memory or experience while focusing on how your body feels. Any symptoms from your body are reprocessed; your symptoms should decrease as you go through the sessions.
Every reprocessing session ends with closure, where your therapist helps you return to calm in the present moment. This happens whether or not the reprocessing is complete; reprocessing is complete when you feel neutral about an event, the positive belief feels true, and your symptoms are gone.
For this final phase, you and your therapist discuss the recently processed memories to determine if you need additional sessions. Reevaluation helps you and your therapist determine future targets and directions for continued treatment.
If you can’t get past your traumatic events or memories, book an appointment with your therapist at David Salvage, MD, FAPM, for EMDR therapy.