What is EMDR Therapy?

At its core, EMDR therapy aims to help individuals reprocess traumatic memories so that they can be integrated into their overall life experiences in a healthier and more adaptive way. The therapy is based on the idea that traumatic experiences can overwhelm the brain’s natural processing ability, leaving memories stuck or improperly stored. These stuck memories can continue to cause emotional distress and negative beliefs about oneself.

At Brittani Persha Counseling, we have several therapists who are trained in EMDR for adults, teens, and children. If EMDR therapy seems like it would be a good fit for you or your child, schedule a free consultation below or give us a call at 713-364-8645.

What Does an eMDR Session Look like?

EMDR therapy sessions look different based on which phase of treatment you are in. EMDR therapy involves an eight-phase treatment process that helps individuals reprocess these memories through bilateral stimulation, often in the form of guided eye movements. By engaging both hemispheres of the brain, EMDR facilitates the natural healing process, allowing the brain to reframe and integrate these distressing memories. See below for the different phases and what a session in each phase would entail:

1. History Taking and Treatment Planning

The initial phase of EMDR therapy involves a comprehensive assessment of the client’s history and current challenges. The therapist gathers detailed information about the client’s past experiences, including any traumatic events, and identifies specific memories or issues that need to be addressed. This phase is crucial for developing a tailored treatment plan that aligns with the client’s unique needs and goals.

2. Preparation

During the preparation phase, the therapist works to establish a strong therapeutic relationship and create a safe environment for the client. The therapist explains the EMDR process, sets expectations, and teaches the client various coping skills and relaxation techniques to manage any distress that may arise during therapy. This phase is essential for building trust and ensuring that the client feels comfortable and supported throughout the treatment.

3. Assessment

In the assessment phase, the therapist and client identify specific target memories to focus on during the reprocessing work. These targets often include the most distressing aspects of the traumatic event, such as vivid images, negative beliefs, and associated emotions and physical sensations. The therapist helps the client rate the intensity of these memories using a Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale (SUDS) to track progress throughout the therapy.

4. Desensitization

The desensitization phase is the heart of EMDR therapy. During this phase, the therapist guides the client through a series of bilateral stimulation exercises, typically involving eye movements, taps, or auditory tones. The client focuses on the target memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. This process helps to desensitize the distressing memory and reduce its emotional intensity. The therapist periodically checks in with the client to assess any changes in their thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations.

5. Installation

Once the distress associated with the target memory has been reduced, the installation phase begins. The therapist works with the client to strengthen and reinforce positive beliefs and emotions related to the memory. This might involve replacing negative beliefs such as “I am helpless” with more empowering ones like “I am in control.” The goal is to help the client internalize these positive beliefs and integrate them into their overall self-concept.

6. Body Scan

The body scan phase involves helping the client identify and address any residual physical tension or discomfort related to the target memory. The therapist guides the client through a mindful scan of their body, noting any lingering sensations. If any distressing sensations are found, the therapist may use additional bilateral stimulation to help the client process and release them.

7. Closure

The closure phase ensures that the client leaves each session feeling stable and grounded. The therapist helps the client return to a state of calm and equilibrium, often using relaxation techniques or guided imagery. The therapist also provides the client with tools and strategies to manage any distress that might arise between sessions, ensuring they feel supported throughout the therapeutic process.

8. Reevaluation

In the final phase, the therapist reassesses the client’s progress and evaluates the effectiveness of the treatment. This phase helps determine whether additional sessions are needed to address other target memories or issues. The therapist and client work together to ensure that the positive changes achieved during therapy are maintained and that the client feels empowered and resilient moving forward.

Beginning EMDR Therapy at Brittani Persha Counseling

EMDR therapy is a powerful and effective approach for helping individuals heal from trauma and other distressing life experiences. Its structured and holistic process, combined with the unique use of bilateral stimulation, facilitates rapid and lasting change. By addressing the emotional, cognitive, and physical aspects of trauma, EMDR helps clients achieve a more balanced and resilient state of well-being.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of trauma, anxiety, or depression, EMDR therapy may offer the relief and healing you seek.

If this sounds like something that would benefit you or your child and you are interested in beginning EMDRTherapy at Brittani Persha Counseling, please give us a call at 713-364-8645 or schedule a FREE phone consultation using the link below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Featured eMDR Therapist at Brittani Persha Counseling

Avery Benedict, LPC, is an EMDR therapist at Brittani Persha Counseling in Houston, TX. Avery received her bachelors degree from University of Texas and her masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Sam Houston State University. Avery specializes in working with children 8+, teens, and adults. She works with those struggling with self-esteem, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, OCD, trauma, and more. If you are interested in working with Avery, please use the link below to schedule an appointment.

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