EMDR Therapy: The EMD Protocol Explained Easily

EMD is a restricted protocol from the EMDR Therapy model. EMDR standard for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The purpose of EMD is to desensitize a specific feeling or memory that is charged, and does not go into reprocessing, which is what the R stands for in EMDR Therapy. It is used to help diffuse the experience without going fully into it. EMD is not a substitute for EMDR’s standard protocol.

How is EMD different from EMDR Therapy?

With EMD Therapy, you return to the target and ask for the SUD after each pass. With the standard EMDR Therapy protocol, you ask “what did you notice?” and wait to get the SUD when you complete the EMDR session of the day. The EMD protocol helps neural networks remain with the target memory instead of channeling through other associations. With EMD, you are desensitizing the target without engaging in reprocessing (R).

How to use the EMD Protocol

1. Choose a target memory.

2. What is an image that represents the worst part?

3. When you think of that image, what negative belief do you have about yourself today? (Negative Cognition)

4. What would you rather believe about yourself now? (Positive Cognition)

5. When you bring up the image and the negative belief about yourself (NC), how disturbing does it feel to you right now (SUD) on a scale from 0-10?

Begin Dual Awareness Stimulation (DAS), otherwise known as bilateral stimulation. Be sure that the client’s preference is of speed and stimulation method is noted before beginning with step 1.

After each set of DAS, you return to the target and SUD by asking “Take a breath. Think of that part of the disturbance and from 0 to 10 how disturbing is it right now?” Once they answer, say “Go with that” and provide 5-10 fast passes and repeat until the SUD no longer changes.

When the client answers, say “Notice that” and repeat the question in the previous sentence again.

You would continue until there is no change in the disturbance, it may only get lower, not a 0.
When it is staying at a lower number move on to the next step by asking:

“When you bring up that memory and the words __ (PC), how true do those words
feel to you now on a scale of 1-7, with 1 feeling completely false and 7 feeling
completely true?” Engage in DAS and check in after 5-10 fast passes with “Think of the incident and your positive belief, 1-7, how true does it feel now?” and “Go with that.” Please note that it is unlikely the client will process to a VOC of 7.

There is no Body Scan in EMD. We move to Closure after Installation of VOC. The focus is to be sure the client is stabilized, to debrief their experience with the target using EMD, and to integrate, which may require extended resourcing.

Who is EMD Therapy for?

EMD can be helpful for a variety of life experiences, including anxiety, trauma, depression, grief, confusing childhood experiences, conflicts with partners or family members, and more. It is not helpful for individuals who are experiencing mania, active psychosis symptoms without medication, and for cluster memories since the EMDR Therapy standard protocol would be more appropriate. In my experience, with EMDR Therapy, there is a little more speaking compared to the restricted protocol, EMD, so for those coming into therapy for the first time and want to talk about this issue because they have not in the past, I would not recommend starting with EMD.

Ready to Start EMD Therapy with a culturally-affirming therapist?

Does EMD or EMDR Therapy interest you? This is a therapy that can be provided virtually or in-person. Visit the Latinx Therapy Directory today and use our filters to find an EMDR Therapist for you. Healing is not easy, but you are not alone. Find a provider in your state.

About the Author:

Adriana Alejandre is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of California, a certified EMDR Therapist and an EMDRIA Approved Consultant currently working on her curriculum to become an EMDR Trainer. She owns a group practice called EMDR and Trauma Therapy Center in Burbank, California focused on providing bilingual, trauma-informed services with her team of Latina Therapists.

Latinx Therapy founder provides EMDR Therapy. EMD Explains Easily, a cheatsheet
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