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Motivational Monday: EMDR

CHAMPAIGN, IL - CHAMPAIGN--

Daniel Applegate from Compass Counseling & Consulting. 

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  

Daniel Applegate, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, from Compass Counseling and Consulting, is with us to explain how this process works.

How Does EMDR work with the brain to promote healing?

Our brains are wired to heal us, not to harm us. But it’s also wired to protect us! Just as when a physical wound occurs, our body has a natural process to heal us. Our body activates to heal a wound, and the brain does the same thing. The problem is, think about a broken bone. If it isn’t set correctly the it heals wrong.  It may heal at an angle or not quite aligned properly.  

What kinds presenting concerns do you use EMDR with?

EMDR unlocks the healing tendency of the brain and works in connection with the natural healing processes of the body.  It has been shown to be effective for complex trauma from childhood, PTSD in veterans, sexual assault and rape, and even acute trauma situations such as natural disaster aftermath, police shootings, fires, etc. 

How does EMDR work?

It is an eight stage 

Phase 1:  The first phase is a history-taking session(s).  We identify targets to process, which may be distressing memories and current situations that cause distress. Initial EMDR processing may focus on childhood events, particularly if the client had a challenging and traumatic childhood.

Phase 2:  During the second phase of treatment, the therapist ensures that the client has several different ways of handling emotional distress.  The therapist may teach the client a variety of imagery and stress reduction techniques the client can use during and between sessions. A goal of EMDR therapy is to produce rapid and effective change while the client maintains equilibrium during and between sessions.

Phases 3-6:  In phases three to six, a target is identified and processed using EMDR therapy procedures.  These involve the client identifying three things:

1.  The vivid visual image related to the memory

2.  A negative belief about self

3.  Related emotions and body sensations.

In addition, the client identifies a positive belief.  The therapist helps the client rate the positive belief as well as the intensity of the negative emotions.  After this, the client is instructed to focus on the image, negative thought, and body sensations while simultaneously engaging in EMDR processing using sets of bilateral stimulation. 

What happens after using the bilateral stimulation?

After each set of stimulation, the clinician instructs the client to let his/her mind go blank and to notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind.  Depending upon the client’s report, the clinician will choose the next focus of attention. 

How do you close EMDR sessions?

Phase 7:  In phase seven, closure, the therapist asks the client to keep a log during the week.  The log should document any related material that may arise.  It serves to remind the client of the self-calming activities that were mastered in phase two.

Phase 8:  The next session begins with phase eight.  Phase eight consists of examining the progress made thus far.  The EMDR treatment processes all related historical events, current incidents that elicit distress, and future events that will require different responses.

What else would you like to say about EMDR?

Lastly I would like to say that my experience in delivering EMDR has been inspiring. I have seen clients who have been stuck for years in traditional talk therapy making no progress.  After just one processing session I have seen movement and been told that clients are experiencing movement in ways they never thought possible.


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