Emma , a 32-year-old woman, had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a traumatic event she experienced a year ago. Emma had been involved in a car accident that left her with physical injuries and significant emotional distress.
Emma was referred to me to try EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing.). I explained the EMDR therapy process to Emma and obtained informed consent for treatment. I proceeded to conduct a comprehensive assessment to identify the traumatic event, negative beliefs and emotions associated with the event, and any related memories or triggers.
During our initial sessions, we focused on establishing a sense of safety and stability, and preparing her for the more intensive trauma processing work that would come later. We discussed the eight phases of EMDR therapy, and I explained how each phase would contribute to her overall healing process.
The assessment phase of EMDR therapy involved exploring Emma's personal and medical history, including any prior traumas, medical conditions, and medications. I also assessed Emma's readiness and stability for EMDR therapy, ensuring that she had adequate support and coping skills to manage any emotional distress that may arise during treatment.
After the assessment, I began the treatment using the three-pronged approach of EMDR therapy. Emma's treatment involved eight phases of therapy, with each phase building on the previous one.
During the preparation phase, I helped Emma develop coping skills to manage any distress during the therapy process. Emma also identified her negative beliefs about the traumatic event, such as "I am not safe," "It was my fault," and "I cannot trust others."
Next, I helped Emma identify positive beliefs she would like to replace the negative ones, such as "I am safe now," "It was not my fault," and "I can trust myself." These positive beliefs were installed using bilateral stimulation, and Emma was asked to rate her level of distress using the Subjective Units of Distress (SUD) scale.
The next phase involved accessing the traumatic memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation. Emma was asked to visualise the traumatic event and the emotions associated with it. I used bilateral stimulation to help Emma process the traumatic memory while encouraging her to focus on the positive beliefs.
I then conducted several sets of bilateral stimulation, and after each set, Emma was asked to rate her level of distress using the SUD scale. This process continued until Emma's SUD rating was zero, indicating that the traumatic memory no longer elicited a negative emotional response.
I then asked Emma to visualise a future scenario where she would encounter a reminder of the traumatic event. Emma was asked to visualise herself using the positive beliefs to cope with the reminder, while I continued to use bilateral stimulation.
The final phase involved checking in with Emma to ensure that she had achieved a sense of closure and that there were no residual negative emotions or beliefs associated with the traumatic event.
After several sessions of EMDR therapy, Emma reported significant improvement in her symptoms of PTSD. She reported feeling more in control of her emotions and was able to manage any triggers related to the traumatic event.
In conclusion, EMDR therapy is a highly effective treatment for PTSD in the UK. By following the eight phases of therapy, using bilateral stimulation, and the three-pronged approach past, present and future, EMDR therapy can help individuals like Emma overcome the negative effects of trauma and lead a happier, healthier life.