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6 Steps to Create Your EMDR Therapy Treatment Plan

"WHERE DO I START?" is one of the most common questions an EMDR Therapist asks when they’re preparing a client for trauma work. This is also why Phase 1 of EMDR (History Taking) is SO important!!

As therapists, we sometimes tend to overcomplicate things, but setting up your History Taking and Treatment Plan can be a lot easier than you think! Just remember to think in terms of the AIP model (Adaptive Information Processing) and you can set up your treatment plan in six easy steps!

How to Create an EMDR Therapy Treatment Plan

1. Identify what the client coming to counseling for? What’s the present day issue that he or she is struggling with, which prompted them to seek therapy in the first place? For example, is there a specific incident that they want help with? Or are there certain symptoms, like anxiety or panic attacks, that they are struggling to overcome?

2. Ask about recent experiences: “What recent experiences have you had that represent this issue?”

3. Do the FLOATBACK and have client identify past experiences that are connected to the present day issue. This will help you create a list of potential targets for the reprocessing phases of EMDR Therapy. Continue floating back until your client cannot identify any other associations related to the present day trigger.

4. After client reports memories (keep going until they can’t think of anything else), then identify the FIRST, WORST and MOST RECENT related to this memory network.

5. Ask about triggers: “Are there other situations, people or places in your life now that bring up these negative reactions?” This sets the stage for the PRESENT DAY Prong of your EMDR Target Sequence Plan.

6. Identify a FUTURE TEMPLATE for each present day trigger. How does your client want to be able to handle these situations in the future? This helps to establish the FUTURE TEMPLATE prong of your EMDR Target Sequence Plan.

It’s always helpful to end your session with a Resourcing Activity, such as Calm Place (but choose a resource that works for your client, attunement wins over scripted approaches ALL the time!!)

From there, it’s a clinical choice-point on which memory you want to pick first. For clients with complex trauma, you may not always want to start with the WORST memory, because it can be too activating, so starting with the more recent way can be a good way to gently begin reprocessing.

As always, don't forget to make sure your client is well resourced before beginning the reprocessing phases of EMDR Therapy! Phase 2 is an essential component of EMDR Therapy and should not be overlooked!


Need more help on your EMDR Therapy Treatment Planning Skills?

Download your copy of The EMDR Therapy Treatment Planning Templates, available now!

The EMDR Treatment Planning Templates are reuseable, fillable EMDR Worksheets that were created to help therapists like you get organized, strengthen your ability to think like an EMDR Therapist and feel more confident using this life-changing approach to trauma therapy.


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