EMDR with Every Client with Gus Murray,

President EMDR All-Ireland

A summary of the day by Deborah Hamilton-Grey

EMDR East Anglia Regional Group online event – 29th April 2023

This was a dynamic deep dive into EMDR With Every Client with Gus Murray EMDR Europe Trainer and Consultant, President of EMDR All-Ireland Association, Integrative Psychotherapist and Trainer. 

Answering questions such as: Can we make EMDR Therapy work with every client? and How do we make it work?

Gus offers us wisdom and insight into three distinguishable levels of EMDR Practice – helping the clinician to better understand some of the complexity around the uses of EMDR in different frameworks, e.g.:

Level 1: Using EMDR techniques – when a clinician uses EMDR techniques as a standalone intervention or as an adjunct to their existing approach. 

Level 2: Using the EMDR Standard Protocol to treat dysfunctionally stored episodic memories, arising primarily from shock (Big T) trauma.   

Level 3: EMDR Therapy with complex clinical presentations, e.g.: EMDR as a comprehensive model of psychotherapy.

Throughout, Gus used recorded case examples and demonstrations from his clinical caseload.

Paying attention to which level the clinician offers to their client, better enables the therapist to understand the difference between offering EMDR Techniques and EMDR Therapy.

“EMDR is not talk therapy with bilateral stimulation.” (Gus Murray 2020, 2023)

Gus expanded on Level 3 EMDR Therapy, particularly paying attention to what he describes as the competencies needed to work with the complexity of level 3 clients. “Expanded competencies are needed for clinicians to successfully work with complex clinical presentations.” (Gus Murray 2023)

Level 3 competency in this presentation focused on revisiting the EMDR Therapy AIP Model – paying attention to the key function of EMDR therapy as resolving dysfunctionally stored memories through the vehicle of the neurobiology of EMDR therapy, understanding survival adaptations and facilitating somatic processes.    

Gus explained key factors in enabling the work of EMDR Therapy.  “creating a balance of activation between the present and the past. Dual attention is a primary mediator with emphases placed on the importance of case conceptualisation and treatment planning and the application of an expanded use of the 8 phase protocol.” April 2023.

Other key concepts that Gus suggest that clinicians pay attention to in being able to offer EMDR therapy for all are: 

Resourcing e.g.: the positive desired future in addition to resourcing figures and other typical resourcing.

Offer container Exercises – as a way of managing difficult /overwhelming material until readiness to tolerate and a way of making positive resources available to the client accessible when dealing such material.

Identifying readiness to process – crucial in the early stages of the assessment phase.

Identifying targets from core beliefs, including early maladaptive schemas.

Identifying targets from anticipated future experience – helps with moving forward.

Future template versus flash forward protocol

Pendulation and Titration – useful to note how much or how little to offer in the process.

EMDR pendulation Interweaves – to help with being in touch with trauma and helping clients move through it.

Gus ended his presentation with his most important observation that the therapeutic relationship in EMDR therapy is key. EMDR is a Relational Psychotherapy which pays attention to: the working alliance, transference/countertransference and the reparative/developmentally needed relationship. All of that is framed within the person to person (I thou) relationship and the wider context of the transpersonal.  (Clarkson P. 1990. A Multiplicity of Psychotherapeutic Relationships, British Journal of Psychotherapy, Vol.7 (2).)   

Deborah Hamilton-Grey, EMDR Accredited Practitioner, EMDR Steering Group.

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