Phases of EMDR
History and Treatment Planning
The first phase of EMDR is a complete history and assessment with the therapist and patient to identify the targets for treatment. This may include past traumatic memories or current triggers.
The therapist explains the treatment and demonstrates the procedures to the patient.
The assessment phase focuses on the memory that’s included in the session. The memory may be identified by the image, cognition, affect, and body sensation it evokes.
EMDR sessions evaluate this using two metrics:
- Subjective Units of Disturbance
- Validity of Cognition
Both metrics are used as a baseline and to test the progress during the treatment as part of the standardized procedure.
The patient focuses on the target memory during the desensitization phase while engaging in back-and-forth eye movements. Then, the patient shares the emotions or thoughts they experienced during this, which the therapist records. The process may be repeated until the patient no longer experiences distress at the memory.
During the installation phase, the individual strengthens the positive thoughts that are now associated with the memory rather than the previous negative thoughts.
The body scan phase shows the patient their physical response to the memory and the positive cognition. If the patient reports any negative thoughts or emotions, more eye movement sessions are used to process it.
Closure is the final phase of the session. If the memory wasn’t processed fully, closure is a time to apply techniques to ensure safety until the next session.
The next session begins with the re-evaluation phase, which evaluates the patient’s current psychological state, any memories that may have emerged, and whether positive effects are maintained. Depending on the results, the therapist and patient work to identify the goals for the next session.