Debra conducts a bio-psycho-social assessment during the first therapy session. Before introducing EMDR as a treatment option, she continues gathering information to determine whether EMDR is an appropriate treatment for you. In her evaluation she considers your ability to regulate emotions, personal and situational stability and life support systems, and your readiness for EMDR.
If EMDR is an appropriate treatment for you, the first phase of EMDR begins with the process with gathering information about your presenting problems, symptoms, and goals for treatment. After taking a developmental history from birth to present Debra creates a chronological list of your most distressing life events. Debra then “lights up” your current issue/symptoms and assists in a “floatback” to all earlier memories associated with the same thoughts, feelings and body sensations experienced in the current issues/symptoms until you reach the “touchstone target” or first memory. The “touchstone” is important because this is when your brain’s natural ability for clearing disturbing information became blocked. Future incidents triggering thoughts, feelings, emotions and body sensations associated with information stored in the “touchstone” became matched with, read, and stored in the same memory channels as the “touchstone memory”. Because information in the “touchstone memory” is blocked from adaptive processing and stored dysfunctionally it is separated from the whole brain’s natural ability to heal. Since the “touchstone memory” becomes the “root” or template for reading the meaning of future events Debra targets the touchstone memory first. She has found that as the “touchstone” is processed other memories in the same channel may begin processing as well. After the “touchstone” and all earlier memories identified in the floatback are processed Debra facilitates building the target for your current issue or symptom.
Debra begins the second phase of EMDR with a thorough explanation of how the EMDR protocol stimulates the brain’s inherent system for adaptive information processing (AIP) of traumatic memories and answers any question you may have about how EMDR will help you to move towards health and healing. She coaches and helps to facilitate you in developing and installing at least four positive resources (RDI) designed to enhance your ability to regulate your emotions and maintain a sense of safety while processing trauma targets during the desensitization phase of EMDR.
Phases three through seven in EMDR are referred to as the “Standard Trauma Protocol”. In phase three or assessment, Debra collaborates with you in “building the target”; setting up the first incident to be processed. First, Debra asks for an image that best represents what happens for you when you think of the incident. This “lights up” the neuro-networks for processing during the desensitization phase. Next, she asks you to identify the negative belief you have about yourself as well as emotions and body sensations when you think of the image and your negative belief. Then Debra asks you to identify the positive belief; what you want to believe about yourself now. The positive belief is what your “whole brain” or “smart brain” already knows and accepts as the truth!!!
During the fourth phase of EMDR Debra draws upon the strength of your rapport together , her clinical skills, intuition and her ability to be fully present and connected with you as you actively work through reprocessing your memory of the disturbing incident. Through her experience as an EMDR therapist, Debra has witnessed that the knowledge for healing during the desensitization phase of EMDR is already programmed in the brain’s inherent ability to heal, however at times certain clinical interventions are helpful to keep the processing moving.
In phase five of EMDR, after desensitizing the disturbing incident through EMDR reprocessing, Debra asks you to bring up the incident you have just reprocessed, while mentally rehearsing your positive belief about yourself as your brain reprograms your maladaptive negative belief about yourself with the more holistic truth of your positive belief about yourself. After your postive belief is fully installed, Debra collaborates with in creating and running several mental movies where you imagine yourself engaged in future scenario(s), embodied with your positive belief about yourself. You are coached to notice not only what you are sensing, feeling, and thinking as you run your mental movie, but also how your positive belief and positive self-perceptions create the positive outcomes you desire.
In phase six, Debra asks you to perform a body scan, and uses relaxing guided imagery to bring any remaining disturbance in the body under control before ending the session.
Debra provides closure for your session during phase seven, by explaining to you that continued adaptive information processing may occur after the EMDR therapy session and encourages you to keep a log of any dreams, unusual body sensations, or new insights you may have following the session.
At the beginning of the next therapy session, phase eight, Debra re-evaluates your experience of the incident (target) you processed during the previous therapy session; assesses whether the target has been fully processed and makes note of any changes that have occurred for you between sessions for future evaluation.