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The 8 phases of EMDR

While most people associate EMDR with trauma processing, it is in fact only one part of EMDR. To ensure the client has an wholistic experience, EMDR encompasses 8 phases. 

Treatment planning

In the first session, we will explore whether EMDR is an appropriate intervention for you at this time. I will invite you to share your history briefly and your current supportive resources. We will then make a plan for your treatment, including number of sessions and how we measure the progress you've made. 


In this stage, we will talk about how EMDR works, what you can expect from sessions and explore any questions you have regarding to the process. We will equip you with regulation tools, like guided drawing or breathing exercises, to support your journey of trauma processing. 


We identify the target memory you would like to work on, as well as the emotions and triggers associated with it. We will use standardised tools like Impact of Event Scale (IES-R), Subjective Unit of Distress (SUD) and Validation of Cognition (VoC) to establish a good place to begin your desensitisation phase. 


This is the core of EMDR. I will invite you to revisit the difficult memory while engaging in rapid bi-lateral movements, like eye movements, tapping, drumming, boxing etc. You don't need to tell me all of your thoughts, but I will check that the images that emerged in your mind is shifting from time to time. 

Installation of positive cognition

When we are both satisfied that the distress level associated with the memory has eradicated or reduced significantly, we will proceed to install a positive cognition, e.g. 'I have done the best I could' associated with the memory. This will be completed with slow bi-lateral movements. 

Body scan

You will be invited to notice any bodily sensations that emerge while you hold the memory and the positive cognition in mind. If you notice any disturbance, we will return to the desensitisation phase to ensure that all triggers have been identified and desensitised. 


We will explore any new insights you discovered in the process of processing the memory, integrate these insights to your life and re-evaluate what wellbeing techniques will support you moving forward. If you wish to process another memory, we can discuss it in this phase as well. 

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