Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based psychotherapy treatment developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro. This therapy is effective in the treatment of trauma and in relieving clients of negative beliefs and the distress caused by them. EMDR therapy helps people to heal from the symptoms of emotional distress in a much shorter time than prior traditional methods. It has become a highly recommended and researched treatment for reducing symptoms caused by past, current and even future trauma.

What does EMDR Treat?

EMDR was originally designed and tested to treat post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Studies reported by the EMDR Institute indicate the as many as 90 percent of people struggling with past trauma may be able to eliminate PTSD in just a few treatment sessions. Due to the significant amount of research that has been performed on the therapy, it is now recommended by notable organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Department of Defense and the American Psychiatric Association. In addition to treating PTSD, clinicians also may use EMDR for addressing the following:

  • Panic attacks and anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders and addictions
  • Personality disorders
  • Body dysmorphic disorders
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Stress and grief
  • Chronic pain disorders

Benefits of EMDR

While EMDR is not the right therapy for every person or situation, those that are good candidates for the treatment may see a variety of benefits:

  • Treatment offers much faster results than traditional forms of therapy
  • Fewer sessions are needed, making the treatment more cost-effective
  • The client learns new techniques to address disturbing thoughts and feelings
  • Addresses past, present and future events and memories
  • Extensive track record of success over the past 25 years since it was introduced

At Avalon Integrative Wellness, we recognize that there is no one way to treat all our clients effectively. Our team will provide a thorough evaluation to determine whether EMDR would be a useful component within your comprehensive, intensive outpatient program (IOP) at our facility.

How it Works

EMDR therapy typically consists of eight different phases:

Phase 1: History-Taking and Treatment Planning

A clinician will obtain historical information from the client and identify possible targets for EMDR therapy using eye movements or other bi-lateral stimulation methods. Targets might include disturbing memories, stressful incidents from the past or current situations.

Phase 2: Preparation and Education

Clients learn a variety of distress-reduction techniques during this phase that allows them to address any emotional disturbances that might occur quickly. Imagery and other relaxation techniques will be taught to equip the client with vital stress-management tools and build a relationship of trust between the therapist and client.

Phase 3: Assessment

During this phase, a target is chosen to focus on during the following therapy sessions. Two different assessment scales may be used to help evaluate the changes that will take place during the treatment. The first is the Validity of Cognition Scale, which assesses the truth of the positive cognition associated with the memory. The second is the Subjective Units of Disturbance scale, which determines how much distress the client experiences when thinking about the memory.

Phase 4: Desensitization

The identified target is processed using EMDR. During this phase, the therapist guides the client through a series of eye movements with the goal of reducing the subjective units of disturbance. Other forms of bilateral stimulation may also be used during this step.

Phase 5: Installation

The client replaces the negative belief associated with the memory to a positive one, using the learned techniques. The positive thinking is measured using the Validity of Cognition scale, to ensure it has the desired effect.

Phase 6: Body Scan

The clinician will ask the client to log any distressful emotions and the actions they used to combat them between sessions. This log helps to identify which tools have been helpful and whether reprocessing might be necessary.

Phase 7: Closure

This phase is performed at the end of each session and consists of the identification of targeted memories that were not fully processed. The client will leave with a recommendation for tools to use to complete the process at home between sessions.

Phase 8: Re-Evaluation

This phase is performed at the beginning of each session. The clinician examines progress made and either works on another target with the client or provides new tools to use for future events that might require different responses.

EMDR at Avalon Integrative Wellness

EMDR is just one of the treatment modalities offered at Avalon Integrative Wellness as part of our comprehensive IOP. We provide a variety of therapy options to customize our client’s treatment plans to their unique needs. To learn more about EMDR or the other therapies you might receive at Avalon Integrative Wellness, contact us today at 888-266-9048.