After I completed my EMDR basic training in 2016, I quickly realized that EMDR protocol is simple but not easy. Before I learned about EMDR, I had 15 years of clinical experience working with trauma survivors. I was well-trained in theories and treatment modalities such as Psychodrama, Gestalt, Object-Relationship Therapy, and Family System Theories. Integrating EMDR into my daily clinical practices was more difficult than I realized.
When I first met my consultant, Barry Litt, LMFT, and shared my concern, he used cooking as an example to help ease my anxiety. To cook, we have to have a basic understanding of cooking. Once you master the basics of cooking, you can put your spin on different dishes that fit you. Therefore, he emphasized the importance of mastering the key elements of EMDR’s eight phases and three prologs as mastering basic cooking skills before applying them to different presenting problems or integrating them into other treatment modalities.
Since then, I have adopted the Eight Phase and Three Prolog model into my practice as Attachment Theory as my foundation. Instead of focusing primarily on phase four of the standard protocol, my consultation will focus on assisting consults in using EMDR’s standard protocol in each therapy session. In addition, I use the Eight Phase and Three Prolog models to conduct each EMDR consultation session.
Eight Phases of EMDR Consultation
Phase 1: History taking and consultation planning
At the beginning of the EMDR consultation, my goal is to understand the consultee’s expectations for consultation, professional history, EMDR training history, theoretical orientation, and theory for change. By doing so, I intend to use the consultee’s present needs for consultation and the history that brought them to where they are now for consultation planning.
Phase 2: Case Conceptualization Preparation
In this phase, I gathered the client’s information, which the consultee prepared to discuss for the case consultation. I assessed how the EMDR work had been done with the clients. I also evaluated the consultee’s familiarity with the EMDR framework in action.
In this phase, I assisted the consultee in using the EMDR language for the case presentation.
Phase 3: Assessment
In this phase, I assessed the worst part of the experiences the consultee experienced when working with specific clients. I used the four elements as the framework by asking about the consultee’s worst part of the experiences, the images representing the worst part of the experiences, and the consultee’s negative cognition, emotions, and physical sensation.
Phase 4: Desensitization
There are two goals I aimed for in this phase. The first goal is to assist the consultee in differentiating the isomorphic process of the client and their own emotions and negative cognition. The aim for this phase is to help the consultee to determine the client’s issues from the consultee’s projection. The second goal is to assist the consultee in applying their understanding of similar emotions, negative cognitions, and physical sensations to understand better the client’s presenting issues with past traumatic experiences.
Phase 5: Installation
After the consultee could differentiate their negative cognition and emotions from the client’s, we discussed the next EMDR session, including reevaluation and problem-solving different possible scenarios.
Phase 6 & 7: Closure and Takeaway
I always ended the consultation by summarizing our 8-phases consultation process and by helping the consumer familiar with the phases of EMDR. I always asked the consultee the same questions I asked the clients: “what did you learn about yourself and EMDR therapy today?”