Q: What Is EMDR Therapy?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an interactive form of therapy that is beneficial in relieving psychological stress, and can be helpful to clients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or another form of trauma. It involves recalling memories of traumatic experiences in brief doses, alternating with pleasant memories that serve to help gradually take the “charge” off of these memories. The therapist directs your eyes to move back and forth—left and right—as you recall the memories. Another option is to use alternating sound clicks or hand taps in a similar manner.

Although originally developed to mainly help treat patients who’ve experienced traumatic events in their life, its use has now been expanded to successfully treat a variety of other conditions, including: depression, panic attacks, eating disorders and addictions. EMDR treatment effectiveness comes from its technique. The therapist will have a client recall the traumatic event interspersed with recollections of more positive and calming memories (resources) By continuously exposing yourself to these stimuli, the physical and emotional impact from these traumatic memories will diminish. 

So, what is EMDR therapy exactly? Generally, a complete EMDR therapy treatment plan is comprised of eight different phases broken out across multiple sessions: 

Phase 1: Client History and Treatment Planning

This is your chance to open up to Dr. Steven Farmer and be upfront about your challenges with trauma and what is impairing your quality of life. Detailing your history with accuracy will help Dr. Farmer determine the best method to use.

Phase 2: Preparation

During this phase, you and your therapist will begin to form a therapeutic relationship. One of the first things you will learn are techniques to help reduce your stress on your own. Learning to manage your own stress levels is critical to providing stability for patients in between sessions where the therapist is not present.

Phase 3: Assessment

In this phase, your therapist will work with you to identify specific memories that have caused your PTSD. Concurrently, you will discuss what physical sensations and emotions you experience as you recall the memory. These details help the therapist understand what you’re feeling and when, furthering your ability to connect certain emotions and feelings with your trauma/experiences.

Phase 4: Desensitization

The main goal of this phase is to reduce the debilitating intensity of your emotional and physical reactions to the targeted memory. Your therapist will ask you to think of the memory that triggers an emotional response as you move your eyes laterally back and forth. To avoid being overwhelmed with emotions triggered by the memory the therapist will typically establish positive memories that are interspersed with the traumatic memory so you feel safe. When performed many times, this technique can eventually lessen your reaction to the target memory. 

Phase 5: The Installation Phase

Your therapist will attempt to increase positive cognition and perspective in place of the negative one. This will help a patient’s reaction to a certain memory become less traumatic. 

Phase 6: Body Scan Phase

As the phases come to a close, it’s important to see if there are still residual signs of stress throughout the body as a result of the traumatic memory. If there is, further assessment and action may be taken. 

Phase 7: Closure

In this phase, your therapist will explain what you can expect between sessions and again go over the stress reduction techniques that were taught in phase 2 to bring yourself back to equilibrium if necessary.

Phase 8: Reevaluation

Your therapist will reassess your condition and also target new areas if desired.

EMDR for anxiety and other ailments is considered to be a safe, effective option that Dr. Steven Farmer has extensive experience in studying and practicing. 

His vast knowledge in various psychotherapeutic techniques make him an expert at identifying conditions and pinpointing exactly which technique (or a combination of two or more) is best for that client.

To make an appointment and take the next steps towards a happier, healthier life, please email info@drstevenfarmer.com.