The 8 Phases of EMDR Therapy:

A Comprehensive Guide to Healing

Empower yourself with EMDR Therapy: Discover the 8 phases that unlock the healing potential within, helping you process trauma and achieve emotional balance.


What are the Eight (8) Phases of EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, most commonly referred to as “EMDR”, is a method which was initially used for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. EMDR has come a long way since it was first developed by psychologist Dr. Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. EMDR Therapy has gained recognition and popularity due to its effectiveness in helping individuals process distressing memories and experiences. In fact, it is considered as a powerful and evidence-based psychotherapy approach used to treat a wide range of psychological conditions and trauma-related issues.

But what exactly is EMDR?

In this article, we will explore the 8 phases of EMDR Therapy to provide an in-depth understanding of each phase and how they contribute to the healing process.

Phase 1: History & Treatment Planning

The 1st phase of EMDR therapy is focused on understanding the history and background of the patient. This is a very crucial step to the patient’s journey towards resolving trauma and restoring emotional well-being.

In this phase, the therapist will gather as much information about the client’s history, including their present concerns, past experiences, and desired outcomes. This will also help in establishing therapeutic and collaborative relationships with the patient which can determine the objective and goals of the treatment.

Phase 2: Assessment and Preparation

The 2nd phase of the EMDR therapy focuses on uncovering the significance of thorough evaluation and groundwork in setting the stage for successful EMDR Therapy outcomes.

In the preparation phase, the therapist helps the client develop coping strategies and relaxation techniques to manage distress and stabilize their emotions. This phase aims to establish a sense of safety and trust, ensuring the client is adequately prepared to engage in the trauma-processing work that lies ahead.

Phase 3: Resource Development and Installation

The 3rd phase is all about exploring the essential phase that equips individuals with inner resources to promote stability and resilience during trauma processing.

During the Resource Development and Installation phase, the therapist will work together with the client to identify the target memories or experiences that will be the focus of the EMDR Therapy. In this stage, the patient will have to recall the distressing or traumatic event while the therapist assesses the associated emotions, beliefs, and physical sensations.

Phase 4: Desensitization

The 4th phase of the 8 phases of EMDR therapy is about unraveling the transformative process of desensitization, where the distressing impact of traumatic memories is gradually alleviated.

The desensitization phase is the core of EMDR Therapy. In this stage, the therapist will use bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, taps, or auditory tones. Throughout the process the therapist will guide the client to process the target memory. The bilateral stimulation helps facilitate the integration of distressing memories and emotions which allows the client to experience a reduction in the intensity of negative feelings.

Phase 5: Installation

The 5th phase is one of the most pivotal steps in the 8 phases of EMDR therapy. This stage is about strengthening the positive beliefs and emotions of the patient as well as fostering a sense of empowerment and self-worth.

During the installation phase, the therapist provides support to the client to strengthen their positive beliefs and adaptive coping strategies. This phase focuses on enhancing the client's sense of self-worth, resilience, and empowerment, enabling them to replace negative beliefs with positive and affirming ones.

Phase 6: Body Scan

The 6th stage is delving into the significance of the body scan phase. During this phase, the attention will be directed towards physical sensations to promote holistic healing and integration.

During the body scan phase, the therapist assists the client in noticing any residual physical sensations or discomfort associated with the targeted memory. This step helps patients to completely release any remaining distress brought upon by the traumatic or unpleasant experience by further addressing these bodily sensations.

Phase 7: Closure

The 7th phase of EMDR treatment is about understanding the importance of closure. This is to help ensure individuals feel safe and grounded after each EMDR Therapy session.

The closure is one of the most essential phases as it keeps in check the client's emotional well-being between every session. The therapist will guide the client in utilizing self-soothing techniques while they offer a safe space for the client to express any emotions that may arise during the session.

Phase 8: Reevaluation

The final and 8th phase of EMDR therapy involves reviewing the progress made in previous sessions and assessing the resolution of the targeted memories. The therapist and client work together to determine if additional sessions are necessary or if the treatment goals have been achieved.

Embracing the final phase that assesses progress and determines the need for additional treatment to solidify the gains made through EMDR Therapy.

EMDR Therapy offers a structured and comprehensive approach to healing trauma and other psychological difficulties. The 8 phases of EMDR Therapy guide individuals through a systematic process of reprocessing distressing memories and promoting adaptive beliefs and behaviors. By engaging in each phase, clients can experience profound healing and transformation. If you are seeking effective and evidence-based therapy for trauma or psychological distress, EMDR Therapy may be an empowering option worth exploring.

When it comes to innovative and holistic treatment programs that enhance the lives of people, Serin Center is the name to trust. 


Get to experience focused and individualized EMDR therapy when you contact our clinic today. You may also head over to our neurohealth centers in Peoria and Scottsdale, AZ, to schedule an appointment to one of our in-house neuropsychologists.