The Phases of EMDR Therapy
The EMDR therapy typically unfolds across eight phases. The number of session devoted to each phase and the number of phases included in each session vary greatly from client to client.
Phase 1: Client History and Treatment Planning
The first of EMDR therapy phases is an evaluation of the client’s safety factors, including the ability to deal with the potential high disturbance triggered by the processing of challenging experiences. This includes an assessment of personal stability and current life constraints. The therapist obtains the information he needs to design the client’s treatment plan. Click for more info on “Client History and Treatment Planning”.
Phase 2: Preparation
During Phase 2, the therapist explains the EMDR therapy procedures and theory, manages expectations about the potential outcomes, and prepares the client in the event challenging reactions occur.
Phase 3: Assessment
During assessment, the client determines
- the target memory and the client selects the image that best represents that memory.
- a negative cognition that reflects the related maladaptive self-assessment, verbalising the disturbing affect and include statements such as “I am useless/worthless/unlovable/ bad/dirty.”
- a positive cognition that will be used to replace the negative cognition
Phase 4: Desensitisation
The fourth of EMDR therapy phase focuses on the client’s negative affect. The clinician initiates the eye movement sets which stimulates insights and appropriate associations.
Phase 5: Installation
The focus of the fifth of EMDR therapy phase is on the strength of the client’s positive cognition used as replacement for the negative cognition.
Phase 6: Body Scan
The client scans her body mentally to identify any residual disturbance in the form of a somatic sensation.
Phase 7: Closure
The client returns to a state of emotional balance by the end of each session, whether or not the reprocessing is complete, and provided with instructions on what to do if disturbances arise between sessions.
Phase 8: Reevaluation
Re-evaluation takes place at the beginning of each new session. The client accesses previously processed targets to determine whether treatment effects have been maintained.
More info on the 8 phases is available from the EMDR International Association.
Also check the infographic for a visual representation of the 8 phases