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Updated: May 8, 2023

The EMDR therapy model stimulates the right and left sides of the brain to unlock and process previous memories that are distressing in the body or emotions. EMDR is different than traditional therapy, as it is focused on changing the brain, versus supporting the patient in a traditional therapy model.

Close up of the eye

EMDR allows the brain to be processed in ways that traditional therapy and the conscious brain cannot. We allow the brain to take the lead in this therapy and to tell us how it wants to heal itself. Then, we work to rewire the brains pathways to create adaptive information.

EMDR Therapy Model

Procedures & Protocol

  1. First, a visual image or picture that represents the worst part of the traumatic memory is elicited.

  2. Next, a negative belief or cognition associated with the identified picture is elicited. This negative belief needs to be meaningful in the present as well as in the old memory.

  3. Next, a positive or preferred belief or cognition is elicited that the client would like to be able to believe.

  4. Next, this positive belief is then rated on the 'validity of cognitions' (VOC) scale (Shapiro, 1989), which is a seven-point semantic differential scale from disbelief to full belief.

  5. Next, the emotions associated with the targeted memory are identified and the disturbance level in relation to the traumatic incident is rated on the SUD scale (Wolpe, 1958).

  6. Finally, physical sensations and their location in relation to the targeted traumatic memory are elicited.

For more information on EMDR Therapy, please visit the resources listed below.


EMDR International Association | EMDRIA.ORG

EMDRIA Article | About EMDR Therapy

Willow Creek Counseling | FAQ page

About the Author: Kathy Couch, LCSW, CT is an EMDRIA-Certified EMDR practitioner and Consultant-in-Training (CIT), and a Board Certified Supervisor with the Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses.


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