EMDR – A Brief Overview

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, April 29, 2015
By Mirta Pont, LCSW,

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) is a “science-validated approach” that gives people a new perspective and understanding of their past experiences, traumas and phobias.   The therapy uses a procedure that allows both sides of the brain to integrate information in a more adaptive way. When people work through disturbing past events, they are free in the present to behave in a different manner. In other words, EMDR is the type of therapy that helps people get “unstuck” and predict how they would like to behave in the future.

Although I am a certified EMDR therapist and follow the AIP (Adaptive Information Processing) model, one of the things I like most about the model is that it is fluid enough that I end up incorporating other forms of therapy within the EMDR protocol.

For example, joining with the client, validating the individual and building rapport are all things I focus on during Phase I of EMDR. I assess a client’s health and functioning and perhaps I will refer someone for a medication evaluation to help stabilize the person.

During Phase II, I teach the client how to access a calming place. I use meditation, imagery and breathing exercise to introduce the mind/body connection. I teach my clients how to “tune-in” by bringing awareness to their breath as well as their body.   A lot of people walk around holding their breath without realizing it. Phase II is all about empowering clients by promoting self-regulation and self-soothing techniques.

In Phases III and IV, client-centered therapy is highlighted. This is where the client (with my assistance) selects a target memory and the actual desensitization occurs. The client is doing all the work, where I am merely facilitating, directing and observing.

Phase V which is the installation stage, is where EMDR delivers again.   By the mere questions I ask my clients, such as, “Instead of believing you’re a bad person, what would you prefer to believe,” I incorporate cognitive behavioral therapy. The difference is that the client will come to believe the positive cognition much quicker.

In Phase VI, I’m back to “tuning-in” to the body. I ask the client to check for disturbances in the body. Many clients suffer from headaches, muscle aches and stomach problems, to name a few. Stress manifests itself physically and I often ask my clients to practice Yoga, meditation and breathing exercises between sessions.

Finally, in Phases VII and VIII, I am giving the client information as to what to expect between sessions and extending additional support if it is needed.   I check every week what progress the client is making with the focus on always moving forward.

Mirta Pont, is a Clinical Social Worker and a Certified EMDR therapist (a specialized therapy effective in desensitizing trauma) at the Coral Gables Counseling Center. Mrs. Pont works with individuals and adolescents on issues such as, anxiety, depression, phobias, substance abuse, relationships, and basically helping individuals get “unstuck”. To set up an appointment, Mrs. Pont can be reached by cell at 305-401-4348 or through the Center at 305-445-0477.