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What is EMDR Therapy Like?

Many people are unaware of what EMDR therapy is like. It’s common for individuals who are about to begin EMDR therapy to think that when they step into their therapist’s office for their session they will immediately be following objects with their eyes. They might think they will be responding to tapping that their therapist conducts. While they are not wrong in the sense of what to potentially expect, EMDR therapy does not begin full-force like that. Instead, there are phases to EMDR therapy. Each phase is designed to help bring a client through their trauma successfully so that they can better manage it. 

So, What is EMDR Therapy Like? 

The eight phases listed below will help you understand what EMDR therapy is like. Check them out below. 

1. History and Treatment Planning

The initial stage of EMDR therapy is designed to help the therapist learn as much as possible about the client and their personal history. It is during this time that they will encourage the client to discuss what events have led them to seek EMDR therapy, as well as any other potential contributing factors that may help establish a full picture. This first phase is not the time for a client to talk about the traumatic events that have affected them. Instead, they will focus on that later on. Baseline information is appropriate during this phase.

2. Preparation

Going from not being able to talk about the traumatic event to reprocessing it and learning how to properly cope with it takes work and skill. Much of this skill is developed during the preparation stage. This is where the therapist works with the client to help them build coping skills that can see them through any distressing feelings they experience during the EMDR sessions. 

3. Assessment

The client is encouraged by the therapist to think of an image from the traumatic event they are attempting to heal from and visualize it. They are then encouraged to attach a statement to it that is a negative self-belief about oneself as it relates to the event. The client then chooses a positive self-belief about themselves. Meanwhile, the therapist guides them through this process, asking questions to help unravel the trauma along the way. The client also provides a rating on their disturbance levels during this time. This helps the therapist gauge the severity of the impacts of the trauma. 

4. Desensitization

This fourth stage is designed to desensitize clients from the traumatic event that has negatively affected them. This is the point in the session where the client will follow an object with their eyes or respond to tapping conducted by their therapist. While it is still not fully understood why, distracting the mind in this way while reprocessing trauma can desensitize individuals to that trauma.

5. Installation

During the installation phase, the client works on exactly that – installation. They will focus on installing the positive self-belief they have established to replace the negative self-belief they had about themselves. They will also focus on gaining back their power over the traumatic event through positive, rational self-talk.

6. Body Scan

The therapist will encourage the client to recall the traumatic event they have been attempting to reprocess. They will ask the client to do a body scan and describe how their body feels while doing so. Any sensations that are occurring at this time will be focused on and reprocessed to provide relief. This helps to alleviate the difficulty that most people experience when attempting to talk about a traumatic event.

7. Closure

At the end of the EMDR therapy session, the therapist helps the client to recalibrate themselves so that they are not left feeling raw and vulnerable. They do this by focusing on empowering the client and discussing what to expect at the next sessions to come. 

8. Reevaluation 

The reevaluation stage is what kicks off each new session from here on out. The therapist and client will discuss the previous session and determine where they would like to pick up, what they want to focus on, and so on. 

Going through each phase of EMDR therapy can help provide answers to the question, “what is EMDR therapy like?” for those who are curious to know how it is executed. This is a complex form of treatment, so there are many more details involved. This is one reason why it is important to discuss this form of therapy with a trained professional prior to beginning it. 

EMDR Therapy in Nashville 

If you are looking to participate in EMDR therapy, look no further than Arbor Wellness in Nashville, TN. Our team of dedicated professionals is ready to help you overcome the trauma that you have experienced. You do not need to continue to live a life where you feel as though your past traumatic experiences define you. 

Call us right now at (866) 771-1649 to speak with a member of our administrative team. Do not let another day go by without reaching out for the help that you need and deserve.