Going to Your First EMDR Therapy Session? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Going to Your First EMDR Therapy Session Here’s What You Need to Know

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a relatively newer type of psychotherapy. However, owing to the many useful applications, particularly in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), EMDR therapy is becoming increasingly popular.

What’s more, EMDR therapy can also treat other forms of psychological distress, such as anxiety and depression.

If you’ve never received EMDR therapy before, chances are you might not know what to expect. As a result, you’ll be feeling nervous or tense. But that’s alright. It’s natural to feel this way when you’re preparing yourself to experience something new.

Fortunately, we can put your mind at ease. In this blog, we’ll be discussing what to expect from your first EMDR therapy session in Florida.

What Is EMDR Therapy?

First things first, EMDR therapy uses sensory input to help people deal with, recover from, and overcome emotional distress and trauma. Although the treatment was first developed in 1987, it wasn’t until a few years ago that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) started noting its benefits. Since then, it has been promoted as an effective therapy by many healthcare organizations.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

At its core, EMDR therapy is about using stimulation and your senses to help you overcome trauma. The primary focus of this therapy is on your eye movements. However, in some cases, it can also include hand tapping and audio stimulation.

During your first session, a professional therapist will move their fingers back and forth in front of your face, and you’ll be asked to follow the movement with your eyes. While doing so, you’ll be requested to recall a disturbing event from your life.

Once you do that, the therapist will use various methods, such as side-to-side eye movements, taps, or sounds to guide your eyes. As your eyes are moving rapidly, your brain will reprocess the trauma. Next, you’ll be instructed to talk about whatever comes into your mind related to that event.

Eventually, the therapist will ask you to shift your focus from negative to positive thoughts, hoping that the distressing emotions have dampened.

How Long Does EMDR Treatment Take?

The EMDR session in Florida can last anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes, depending on your comfort level. With that said, a complete cycle of EMDR therapy includes 8 phases.

Please Note: You have the choice to stop the therapy at any given moment. If something feels too much to handle, we recommend notifying your therapist immediately.

The Eight Phases of EMDR Therapy

  1. History & Treatment Planning

In the first phase, your medical history will be thoroughly reviewed to identify the specific traumatic event affecting you. Then, your therapist will develop treatment plans and move forward with the one they think will suit you the best. Generally, you’ll complete this stage after one or two EMDR therapy sessions.

  1. Preparation

The next phase consists of establishing trust between you and your therapist. They will give you an overview of the treatment plan, while you’ll be asked to talk about the distressing event. This step can take anywhere between 1-4 EMDR therapy sessions to complete. But with individuals with severe trauma, it may take longer than that.

  1. Assessment

During this phase, you and your therapist will work together to find answers to the following questions:

  • What caused the trauma?
  • What are the factors that trigger it?
  • Is the trauma relevant to your present?

Additionally, you’ll be introduced to a positive phrase in phase 3, such as ‘I am enough’ or ‘I am loved.’ The reason behind doing so is to counteract negative thoughts and emotions clouding your judgement.

  1. Desensitization

As the name suggests, the fourth phase will rationally evaluate that disturbing event. You’ll be presented with images that trigger negative emotions in you, while also being asked to follow hand movements. After each set of eye movements, you’ll have to narrate your experience. Depending on the results, the process will be repeated, or you’ll move to the next step.

  1. Installation

Here, the goal would be to install a positive belief in your thought process. For instance, if someone has a negative image of being abused as a child, they’d usually think, ‘I am powerless.’ But in this phase, it’ll be replaced by ‘I am now in control.’ The process will be repeated until it evokes more positive feelings than negative ones.

  1. Body Scan

You’ll be asked to think about the traumatic event again in the 6th phase. The objective is to identify the traces and remnants of that distressing episode. Except this time, your pulse and blood pressure will be checked, too, as it’s common for them to rise when thinking about an unpleasant past event. If you’re still experiencing negative thoughts, the session will be continued.

  1. Closure

Once everything is in the clear and your body scan doesn’t show any negative impact of the event, you’ll move to the second last phase. The therapist will introduce a few stress-reducing techniques. Moreover, you’ll be expected to record your experiences with various events after all eights EMDR therapy sessions in Florida have been completed.

  1. Revaluation

The success of the EMDR therapy and the sessions will be evaluated in the final phase. It’s possible that you feel relieved after attending just a few of them. However, it’s important to complete all eight phases, so you’re well-equipped to handle stressful situations in the future.

Your Life Isn’t Defined by Your Past

You shouldn’t let traumatic events and unpleasant memories take control of your life. They were a few bad chapters – that’s all. And the best thing about waking up to a new day is that you get to write what happens next.

At Central Florida Neuropsychology, we believe that everyone deserves a second chance. And that’s why we use evidence-based and tested methods to help our clients break free from the chains of the past and eventually lead them towards a better, healthier, and freer life.

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