EMDR Therapy


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A Brief Introduction to EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro. EMDR therapy has been established by extensive scientific and clinical research as an effective treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It has application beyond PTSD to other life experiences which had a negative learning outcome. It can be used to help establish self esteem, confidence, and to release attachments to out of date loyalties and unresolved baggage.

EMDR therapy employs a bilateral, dual attention stimulus such as eye movements, tactile or auditory stimulation (eye movements were the original form, hence the name of the therapy), which is understood to kickstart an orienting response in the brain, linking into a mode of information processing that typically occurs during the sleep cycle. The dual attention stimulus can be created by the practitioner either manually (the waving of fingers or a wand from left to right, engaging the client in bi-lateral eye movements) or by using equipment and software specifically designed to accomplish same. The bi-lateral, dual attention stimulus, when employed in the context of this structured therapy approach designed to access, desensitize, and reprocess emotionally disturbing material, creates the conditions for the brain to fully digest what previously was held by the nervous system in a raw, partially (or fully) unprocessed form. The past can finally, truly feel like the past–rather than a perpetual, painful present.

EMDR therapy involves the following steps, if people are not dissociative:

  1. Client History Taking
  2. Preparation (when indicated, strenghtening a safe sense, resourcing the client and ruling out red flags contraindicating proceding EMDR therapy)
  3. Assessment of the memory, image, negative belief about the self, the positive belief one wishes to hold instead (and how valid it seems at the outset), the emotion and the body sense of the memory, and the level of disturbance at the outset
  4. Desensitization of disturbing material with bilateral stimulation, whether eye movements, auditory or tactile stimulation is chosen by the client
  5. Installation of the desired positive cognition when it is ready to be received and strengthened
  6. Body Scan, to “weed out” any remaining disturbing material not accessed during Desensitization and Installation phases
  7. Closure, when the reprocessing is paused and any remaining, disturbing material is contained prior to the client leaving the therapy space
  8. Re-evaluation/Review in the next session, to ensure complete reprocessing of the memory material

For information about the safe use of EMDR therapy with dissociative individuals, refer to Dr. Paulsen’s groundbreaking, informative, and therapist and client friendly book, Looking Through the Eyes of Trauma and Dissociation.

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Dr. Paulsen and EMDR Therapy

Dr. Paulsen has moderated an internet forum about EMDR therapy for the EMDR Institute. She is a senior practitioner of EMDR and is an EMDR Institute facilitator and advanced specialty workshop instructor, as well as an EMDR International Association Certified Consultant and Workshop Instructor.

Dr. Paulsen was the invited Master Series Lecturer at the 2004 EMDRIA Conference in Montreal. She is known for having developed the first protocol for the use of EMDR therapy with highly dissociative individuals, publishing cautions about EMDR therapy with dissociation, and for first urging the screening of every client for dissociation before administering EMDR therapy. Those recommendations were adopted in 1992 by the EMDR Institute, and are reflected in Francine Shapiro’s 2001 edition of her book Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.

In 2006, Dr. Paulsen began collaborating with Katie O’Shea, developer of what O’Shea called the Early Trauma Protocol. O’Shea and Paulsen first co-presented on this approach at the EMDRIA 2007 Annual Conference in Denver. The primary focus of Dr. Paulsen’s current clinical practice is treating pre-verbal trauma and neglect using an evolved Early Trauma Approach, integrating leading-edge, neurobiological evidence-based practices with ancient understandings of the body, mind, and spirit to clear early trauma safely and effectively. A long-awaited book describing O’Shea’s and Paulsen’s Early Trauma Approach, hewing fairly closely to the conceptual and practical foundations laid all those years ago, is currently in press.

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D. Michael Coy and EMDR Therapy

Michael specializes and is EMDRIA-Certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. Michael has specialized training in EMDR therapy for pre-natal, natal, and early childhood trauma; addictions and compulsions; and, complex trauma and the dissociative disorders. Michael is an EMDRIA Approved Consultant in EMDR therapy and currently accepting new consultees both for ongoing, general consultation and specifically for the purposes of EMDRIA Certification in EMDR therapy.

Michael has received intensive and ongoing EMDR therapy training in Katie O’Shea’s and Sandra Paulsen’s Early Trauma Protocol, Robert Miller’s Feeling-State Addiction Protocol (FSAP), Larry Anderson’s Craving and Consequence of Use (CCU) protocol, and Sandra Paulsen’s approach to treating complex trauma and dissociative disorders. Michael also participates in an ongoing peer consultation with Dr. Paulsen on the topics of Ego State Therapy, somatic release methods, complex trauma, and the dissociative disorders.

Although not directly related to EMDR therapy, Michael has also completed Basic Training in Clinical Hypnosis through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis, and continues to deepen those skills, specifically in the context of Ego State Therapy techniques to reduce/manage internal conflict that may prevent trauma resolution from taking place, and to help clients manage disturbing emotional material that surfaces unexpectedly outside of session.


The licensed mental health professionals practicing in association with the Bainbridge Institute for Integrative Psychology are independent practitioners whose practices are separate from one another. There is no legal relationship between these professionals. None of these professionals has any responsibility for either the conduct of any other professional associated with the Bainbridge Institute for Integrative Psychology or the clients served by any other professional associated with the Bainbridge Institute for Integrative Psychology.