Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a structured process oriented psychotherapy treatment developed by Francine Shapiro based on the adaptive information processing model (AIP) that seeks to facilitate accessing and processing of traumatic memories and adverse life experiences to bring them to an adaptive resolution. The outcome of EMDR seeks to reformulate negative belief systems associated with the trauma, reducing the physiological arousal, and relieves affective distress. The therapist seeks to capture memories using an external stimuli simultaneously such as lateral eye movements, hand tapping, or audio stimulation. EMDR is an eight (8) phase treatment that has a focus on the past, present, and future utilizing a three-pronged protocol that allow for the past events to be processed, forming new links with adaptive information with current circumstances causing distress to be targeted while desensitizing internal and external triggers, and imaginal templates of future events are included to assist the client in the acquisition of skills for adaptive functioning.
The initial phase, history taking, allows for the client to be assessed for readiness and begin to identify targets for the processing. The second phase, preparation, focuses on establishing containment and stress reducing exercises to be utilized when processing these memories becomes emotionally distressing. During phases three to six, the client identifies and processes a target identifying a vivid visual image, negative cognition or belief of the self, and the bodily and emotional sensations that they relate to the specific target. The therapist assists the client with the use of varying sets of bilateral stimulation repetitively that seeks to minimize the distress experienced to replace the initial negative cognition with the newly established positive cognition. The seventh phase, closure, the client keeps a log and utilized the self-soothing or calming exercises that the client learned in the second phase. The final phase, Re-Evaluation, seeks to reflect on progress and identify any new target trauma to begin to focus on.