EMDR Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
EMDR cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective treatment for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may also be utilized to address other emotional and mental health conditions, such as phobias, chronic pain, addiction, depression and eating disorders.
When receiving EMDR therapy, therapists stimulate one sense on both sides of your body in order to activate memory processing in your brain. This technique, known as bilateral stimulation or BLS, was originally done through stimulating eyes but now can also be done using other senses such as tapping or blinking lights.
The initial step of EMDR is preparation, which provides you and your therapist with a comprehensive understanding of the procedure. It also gives them an opportunity to address any queries or anxieties you may have.
According to EMDR psychotherapist Elizabeth Fedrick, PhD, LPC, this is an integral part of the treatment process as it helps you and your therapist build trust in the relationship. Furthermore, it gives you time to prepare yourself mentally for each EMDR session as well as anticipate any physical reactions to therapy from your body, says Elizabeth Fedrick PhD, LPC.
In this phase, your therapist will help you identify and isolate the targeted memory or trauma causing you the most distress and discomfort. Once identified, work to dissociate it from other thoughts, feelings and experiences.
When working through a traumatic memory, your therapist will ask you to track any symptoms as you think about or experience the memory. Doing this allows them to track progress and recognize when progress has been made.
Once the targeted memory no longer causes you any distress, your therapist will guide you into reprocessing it. During this phase, continue engaging in eye movements and other body language signals while your therapist continues to focus on the traumatic memory.
After reprocessing the trauma you experienced, your therapist will ask you to focus on developing a new positive belief associated with that memory. This could be something learned through therapy sessions so far or one that has emerged naturally during that process.
Once you have your new positive belief, practice putting it into action by speaking it aloud or focusing on a visual image of it. This is an effective way to observe how this new understanding is impacting your life.
Throughout the reprocessing phase, your EMDR therapist will focus on the traumatic event while you do eye movements and other BLS. Once it becomes no longer disturbing you, repeat this process until it no longer bothers you.
At this stage, your EMDR therapist will ask you to perform a body scan in order to identify and note any physical symptoms caused by the traumatic memory. Additionally, when thinking about or remembering this memory, conduct another body scan and note any changes that take place.