Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR, is a trauma therapy technique used to treat post traumatic stress disorder. It follows 8 phases:


  1. Client history and treatment - which evaluates the extent of the client's trauma and their ability to tolerate exposure.
  2. Preparation - teaching self-soothing techniques to the client to help cope with these distressing memories as they're brought into awareness/short-term memory.
  3. Assessment - identifying the target (the distressing memory) which could be an image, a sound, or other memory accompanying the memory to be cleared. This also includes identifying a positive thought to replace the negative one associated with the distressing memory.
  4. Desensitization - involves reducing, or attenuating the client's disturbing reactions to the memory, thereby reducing somatic (bodily) symptoms such as rapid heart rate, numbing or tinging sensations, sweating, stomach issues and so on that are associated with the triggering event.
  5. Installation - installing the positive thought(s) identified in 3.
  6. Body scan - a meditative technique where the client notices physical sensations associated to the distressing memory indicating areas where further processing may be needed.
  7. Closure - occurs at the conclusion of each EMDR session involving soothing techniques practiced in phase 2.
  8. Re-evaluation - a review of the client's progress, noting any areas where residual trauma may remain for further treatment.


What differentiates EMDR from other forms of therapy?

Talk therapy alone cannot heal the wounds left by traumatic experience. While problem solving techniques may give temporary relief, they more often than not fall short of healing trauma wounds. The original trauma event(s) bypass higher processing centres of the brain and it is for this reason that logic-minded approach.  EMDR is used in treating addiction, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), chronic and phantom pain, eating disorders, and psychotic symptoms.