Eight Phases of EMDR


EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an eight-phase treatment that can alter the brain’s neurological response to triggering events in response to trauma. If you would like to learn more about how EMDR works in the brain, click here.

The Eight Phases of EMDR include:

  1. History Taking– This phase involves the therapist learning about the patient’s background to identify influential aspects of their life’s journey. This helps set the foundation for a treatment plan, along with identifying some of the client’s inherent strengths.
  2. Preparation– This is the phase where the therapist builds rapport with the client and explains the process. The mechanisms of bilateral stimulation will be tested (ie: tapping, sound).
  3. Assessment– A specific triggering memory is addressed, and the therapist asks the client to examine any thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations they can associate with the memory.
  4. Desensitization– The client is asked to think about the event while following the bilateral stimulation (finger movement, light, sound, tapping). This is where the brain starts reprocessing the memory. Then, clients are asked to pay attention to any thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations they are experiencing during this time. This phase is typically done in silence.
  5. Installation– This is where the memory being addressed will be linked to a positive belief to help the client reframe their perception of the memory, while bilateral stimulation is still occurring.
  6. Body Scan– This builds upon the installation phase by having the client think of the triggering event while holding a positive belief and paying mind to their body’s sensations.
  7. Closure– This is where attention is diverted away from the triggering event, and the client and therapist deliberate on how to contain uncovered insights and what to expect moving forward.
  8. Reevaluation– This phase is to examine the level of impact that EMDR has had on the client’s perception of the triggering event. The therapist may ask the client what images, feelings, or sensations arise when they think of the event now. This is used to evaluate their current level of distress and see if a new event should be addressed or if they should stick with the one, they are working on.

EMDR is one of the modalities that the therapists at Torus Therapy utilize in the treatment of trauma. If you would like to speak to someone about the possibility of receiving EMDR, click here.


EMDR International Association. (2023, March 7). What is EMDR therapy? [Video]. YouTube.

Written by: Nick Shaw, MSW Intern