EMDR is composed of eight different phases, described below:
- Phase 1 involves taking a thorough trauma history with you and determining whether or not this treatment approach would be useful to you.
- Phase 2 helps prepare you for processing your trauma by helping you create various skills you will need to be successful.
- Phase 3 is where you and Dr. McConnell will assess and prioritize which traumatic memories to process first. These memories are called “targets” and you will identify negative thoughts about the specific traumatic memory. Dr. McConnell will use what is known as a “Validity of Cognition” (VoC) scale where he will ask you how much you believe that negative thought. He will also use a Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) to help identify how significantly painful that memory is for you. After that, Dr. McConnell will help you identify a positive thought that is designed to replace the negative thought you have about the traumatic memory.
- Phase 4 is the desensitization phase. In this phase, Dr. McConnell will help you process your trauma by using bilateral stimulation (BLS) by using eye movements and/or bilateral auditory or tapping depending on if you have medical issues that prevent eye movements from being used. During this time, you will be in complete control of the processing. If the memory becomes too painful, then you will be allowed to stop the processing. Dr. McConnell will never force you to process your trauma when you are not ready to do that.
- Phase 5 is called the “installation” phase. At this point when the memory has been processed, the positive thought that you identified to replace the negative thought will be paired so you will be able to associate the traumatic memory with a positive thought where the traumatic memory will no longer bother you as significantly as it once did.
- Phase 6 is the “body scan” phase. Dr. McConnell will ask you to think of the traumatic memory and if there are any physical sensations you experience, those will be identified and processed as well.
- Phase 7 is the closure phase. At this point, the self-regulation skills you gained in the beginning before processing your trauma will be used to help you return to the state you were in before you did the processing.
- Phase 8 is the reevaluation stage. In this stage, Dr. McConnell will check with you to see how the processing of that particular traumatic event went and will assess if there are other traumatic memories or events that would like to be processed.