EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a technique targeting the subcortical brain. It has been shown to be effective with a number of diagnoses, including trauma, PTSD, and anxiety-based disorders.
Ali Iverson (Schilling), Psy.D., Shanika Toms, LCSW and Alex Chaplik, LCSW are currently able to provide EMDR.
This therapy is often used as an adjunct to other types of therapies.
First, your therapist and you will determine if EMDR therapy is a good fit for you. You will work with your therapist to develop a target sequence plan, which is built around a specific activating memory.
You will then work with your therapist to identify the belief that is associated with the image (for example, this might be "I am not good enough" or "I cannot trust anyone")
The next step is to identify a reprocessed belief that is typically intrinsic in nature (meaning you have the control - for example, "I am not good enough" might become "I am worthy being me.")
You will use bilateral stimulation (BLS) while focusing on the negative event, belief, and the experience of the emotion in your body. The trauma does not need to be openly discussed with your therapist if you would prefer.
You will have full control to stop the session at any point. Our EMDR sessions last 55 minutes. There are 8 phases to this treatment as listed below:
Phase 1: History and Treatment Planning
This phase generally takes 1-2 sessions. Your clinician will take a thorough history and develop a treatment plan.
Phase 2: Preparation
You will likely not start EMDR on your first session. This is because it is important to learn techniques to manage distressing emotions that may come up through the EMDR process. Phase 2 includes learning nervous system calming skills and other skills that are taught in most other types of psychotherapy (such as paced diaphragmatic breathing and safe place).
Phase 3: Assessment
In this phase, you will work with your clinician to create a target sequence plan.
The first step is to choose the memory you would like to process. Next, with your clinician's guidance, you will identify a negative self-belief associated with the image (these fall into 5 categories, value (e.g. "I am unworthy"), safety (e.g. "I am in danger"), power ("I am powerless"), control ("I am not in control"), and responsibility ("It is all my fault"). You will then go through your past, present, and future to identify memories (and fears about the future) relating to the negative belief.
Next, you will choose a belief you would like to reprocess to - such as "I am worthy." You will then go through your own past, present, and future to identify times when this has felt true.
Phase 4: Desensitization
During this phase, you will use bilateral stimulation (such as moving your eyes back and forth or tapping on your knees) to desensitize the emotional intensity associated with the memory. You will continue this until your subjective unit of disturbance (SUD) level is 0 (meaning you experience no disturbance from the memory).
Phase 5: Installation
The goal of this phase is to increase the strength of the positive belief. You will again use bilateral stimulation to help increase how true the new belief FEELS (such as "I am worthy.").
Phase 6: Body Scan
After completing phase 5, the next step is to clear all body sensations associated with the trauma. You will continue the bilateral stimulation (e.g. eye movements) until all physical sensations are alleviated.
This is a very important step as research has found that information about traumatic events or experiences is stored in body memory (called motoric memory), rather than narrative memory (verbal, imagery associated with the event). When information in motoric memory is processed, it can then move to narrative memory for it to be verbalized and the physical symptoms disappear. An EMDR target memory is not considered healed until all body sensations and negative feelings associated with it disappear.
Phase 7: Closure
This phase is completed at each treatment session. This ensures the patient leaves the end of each session feeling better than at the beginning. If desensitization is not complete at the end of a single session, calming techniques will be used to help the person achieve calm. You will also be briefed as to what to expect between sessions (e.g. ongoing processing).
Phase 8: Reevaluation
This is the start of each session. You will reevaluate your progress in your treatment plan.
Questions? Contact us for more information!