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What is EMDR?

What is EMDR?

You may or may not have heard of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). We here at The Lodge Counseling want to help you understand not only what EMDR is but how it can help you. But first a brief history, EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro and first published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol.2, No. 2, 1989. She identified, during a walk in the woods that her eyes were darting back and forth and this helped her process difficult memories. From that Ms. Shapiro developed a protocol that we know as EMDR. Since then EMDR has been adapted to help treat individuals struggling with, not only PTSD, but many other mental health issues including: grief, anxiety, substance use addictions, and pain.

What is involved in the typical EMDR treatment process?

In the typical EMDR process you and your counselor will develop resources and coping skills to help you manage; stress, the emotional events in your life and their potential increase due to processing your traumatic memories. Next you will work together to develop a Target Sequence Plan by identifying a series of difficult memories in your life, starting at the most recent or the most impactful memory, and develop a timeline of events where you felt the same way going all the way back to your childhood.  They you will begin to process those events using a form of Bilateral Stimulation (BLS) which can come in many forms including tapping, following a light or a finger with only your eyes, or using sounds. This processing will continue until the difficulty is gone.

How do I know when I am cured?

You do not get cured in the same sense as a medical professional will cure an infection, you learn to manage the symptoms like you would do if you were working to manage diabetes. Typically the counselor and client will know when the memories are no longer overwhelming by using two scales, one that will go down and one that will go up. The first scale is known as the Subjective Unit of Distress (SUD) this is a 1 to 10 scale where you will determine how distressful the painful memories are for you, this is the one will go down, and the second scale is known as a Validity of Cognition (VoC) a 1 to 7 scale where you will identify how true to you feel a positive statement about the memory is, this one will go up. Once the SUD is at a 2 or below, depending on the situation, and the VoC is a 6 or a 7. We will know that you have successfully processed the painful events and can manage them appropriately.

Andrew LapinThe Lodge, Men, Trauma