One of the top methods of therapy used for treating several anxiety types, phobias, forms of PTSD, and general depression is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)–a method of psychotherapy that has grown in popularity over the last decade. When you seek EMDR counseling from trauma centers specializing in the treatment of PTSD like Serenity Trauma, you can expect to develop healthy coping mechanisms with newly rebooted brain cells that will enable you to live your daily life without the overwhelming feeling of anxiety consuming you.

Traditionally, EMDR counseling contains 8 phases one will experience in their treatment from a trained therapist. This article is intended to help people seeking EMDR counseling learn more about what to expect in this specialized treatment method for PTSD, anxiety, and depression.


1. EMDR Counseling Begins with Treatment Planning 

Before your treatment plan can be carved out, your EMDR therapist must first work with you in phase one to map out your medical history and identify the specific source of the trauma that has been affecting you. In addition to this, your EMDR therapist will pinpoint the triggers, as well as their intensity level. Then, your therapist will chart out treatment goals that are critical for sequential processing. This is also the phase where you begin to develop trust with your therapist, and learn more about the direction and path your treatment plan will take you.


2. Preparing for EMDR Counseling

Once your trauma has been identified and its triggers and intensity level noted, phase two is all about preparation which is done by talking about your problem with the therapist, while reviewing the treatment plan. This is when your EMDR counselor will provide you with a detailed explanation outlining that which is causing your anxiety symptoms and he or she will help you begin to discover how you can learn to process your trauma in a way that is conducive to a healthy outlook. Based on your needs, you may learn deep breathing techniques to help with self-control and to reduce anxiety levels. 


3. Assessing the Trauma

In phase three of your EMDR counseling, your therapist will work with you to locate and isolate the main memory that triggers your PTSD or emotional trauma. This incident could be one in which you survived a catastrophic accident, it could come from sexual abuse, or the passing of a family member. You will also be asked to identify the most common image and feeling associated with that memory. You will also talk about how the traumatic incident is relevant to your current existence as you are living in the present, and what the chances are that it could recur. Then, your EMDR therapist will likely help you introduce a positive belief about what happened, such as “you are now safe” to help combat the negative beliefs that sprouted from the trauma. 


4. Desensitization in EMDR Therapy

This is the halfway point through the therapy in which you will work with your EMDR therapist to rationally evaluate the disturbing event that caused your trauma. While doing this, your therapist will work to help your brain change the way it associates the trauma with its trigger. Often in this stage patients are asked to focus on an image that invites a negative reaction while simultaneously making bilateral eye movements. This type of stimulation is typically done in a series of sets to be determined by the therapist, and each set is roughly 25 to 30 seconds in length. After completing each set of eye movements, you will be asked to take a deep breath and provide feedback on what you experienced during the treatment. The intensity of your traumatic response will dictate the speed and length of the next set of eye movement stimulation. 


5. Installing Positive Beliefs in EMDR Therapy 

In phase five of EMDR therapy your therapist will work with you to “install” a positive belief deep into your thought process; your counselor will help you fortify that positive belief and work with you to push out the negative one so that it is completely replaced. For example, if you experienced a near drowning as a child, your therapist would work with you to help you realize that, as an adult, you are capable of avoiding water, or taking swimming lessons as an experienced adult who can trust a professional. This process will continue until your anxiety levels are reduced and you have more positive feelings about the experience after each guided set. 


6. Physical Body Scan in EMDR Therapy

Once the installation phase is completed, you will move into phase six where you will be asked to let the traumatic event come back to the surface so you can be reevaluated. This is an important phase because it allows the EMDR therapist to see if there is any residual trauma, such as an elicited somatic response like heighted blood pressure, muscle stiffness or an elevated pulse. If any negative emotions are detected in the body scan, then your therapist will continue with the sessions. 

7. Stress Reduction and Closure

In this stage your therapist will lay out stress reduction techniques and will request that you keep a mental journal of disturbances that surface between sessions, and he or she will coach you on how to manage and cope with them. 

8. Time to Reevaluate

In the final phase of EMDR therapy your therapist will review the effectiveness of the treatment as a whole and determine if there is any need for further sessions or additional treatment. Once this has been established, the therapist will plan out any follow-up sessions as required. 


Book a Consultation with Serenity Trauma’s EMDR Therapist Today

EMDR therapy has turned thousands of lives around. People who invested in this treatment have, after years of emotional hardship, been able to develop healthy thought patterns and thinking processes associated with the traumatic event that once dominated their lives, only to move on as happy, confident, fulfilled individuals. Your first step is to book a consultation and take control of your life’s journey, as you deserve to live a happy life, and the best version of your true self.