Emdr’s 3-pronged approach.

Dec 20, 2023

Understanding EMDR's 3-promged approach.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. Unlike traditional forms of therapy that focus on the direct discussion of distressing events, EMDR employs a 3-pronged approach that targets past experiences, present disturbances, and future actions. This multifaceted method has been widely recognized for its effectiveness in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological issues.

EMDR therapy session

The Past: Processing Memories

The first prong of EMDR therapy focuses on the past traumatic events that are causing current distress. During this phase, therapists guide clients through a process of identifying and targeting specific memories for treatment. The goal is to desensitize the individual to these memories and reprocess them in such a way that they no longer trigger debilitating responses. This is achieved through bilateral stimulation, typically in the form of guided eye movements, which seems to help the brain process these memories more adaptively.

The Present: Addressing Current Triggers

EMDR therapy then shifts to the present, addressing current situations that provoke distress. The therapist helps the client identify current triggers and stress responses. The aim here is to use EMDR techniques to reduce the client's current reactions to these triggers and to teach them coping mechanisms. This phase is crucial for clients to start feeling immediate relief from their symptoms and to gain a sense of control over their emotional responses.

stress triggers

The Future: Enhancing Positive Outcomes

The final prong of EMDR therapy is future-oriented. It involves preparing the client to handle future challenges and stressors. Techniques are employed to strengthen the client's positive skills and behaviors, ensuring that they are better equipped to cope with potential triggers. This proactive approach is designed to help individuals maintain their therapeutic gains and to navigate future challenges with greater resilience and self-efficacy.

Components of EMDR's 3-Pronged Approach

Prong One: Past Experiences

  • Identification of traumatic memories
  • Desensitization through bilateral stimulation
  • Reprocessing of memories for adaptive resolution

Prong Two: Present Disturbances

  • Recognition of current triggers
  • Application of EMDR to reduce stress responses
  • Development of coping strategies
coping strategies

Prong Three: Future Actions

  • Enhancement of positive anticipatory behaviors
  • Strengthening of coping mechanisms for future stressors
  • Consolidation of therapeutic gains

EMDR's Impact on Healing

EMDR's 3-pronged approach is a comprehensive strategy that not only addresses the