EMDR Professional Development
How To Prepare an EMDR Case Conceptualization
You want to make the most of your EMDR consultation sessions but you’re not sure where to
begin. Will you be able to keep up with the group or feel far behind your peers? Will you be able
to make the most of your individual time and leave with actionable steps? Have no fear! If you
do just one thing to optimize a meeting with your EMDR Consultant it is this – prepare a case
What is an EMDR case conceptualization? At its most basic level a case conceptualization is an
overall awareness of a single client’s story including three areas: their basic data and history,
target issue, and where they are in the 8 Phases. Your ability to organize this information ahead
of time and communicate it to your Consultant or consultation group will allow them to give you
the most useful guidance and feedback possible.
Let’s break down these three areas of information. First, general information. This will most
likely include basic data such as the client’s age, sex, gender, and length of time you have been
working with them. How often you meet with them (weekly, bimonthly, etc) is helpful to know as
well. But, you may also want to consider communicating other pertinent data unique to your
niche, treatment arena, or history. For example:
- If they are in residential treatment, how long have they been enrolled, where are they in
the residential programs larger system (e.g. level, phase, step work, etc).
- If they are a child, are their parents/guardians present in treatment, active in treatment,
- Is treatment occurring in person or online, in a group or an individual session, etc.
Second, communicate the target issue. If you have completed Phase 1 (History Taking) this will
be incredibly helpful to dig in and propel you forward. As best as possible, communicate to your
consultant the client’s concern (e.g. depression, anxiety, substance abuse, recent event, etc)
and, if you have it, the client’s negative cognition and positive cognition. If you haven’t gotten
this far with your client don’t worry! That’s what consultation is for, to help you learn and prepare
so that each Phase goes as smoothly as possible when you are in session.
Finally, identify where you are in the 8 Phases. This is important in letting your Consultant know
how they can best support you. Identifying where you are in the Phases provides an opportunity
to review what steps in the process went well, where your client might have struggled or where
you felt insecure or incomplete in gathering data for later desensitizing, reprocessing, etc.
During the process of consultation you’ll learn to break down the 8 Phases even more to really
explore the importance and function of each question and how it propels our clients forward. If
you want to dig deep into the 8 Phases for your own insight or to prep for your consultation
meeting sign up to get the EMDR Therapy AIP-Informed Case Conceptualization worksheet
Okay, you are ready for your first case conceptualization. Good work! And remember, a little
preparation goes a long way. But first and foremost, never forget that consultation is your time
to learn and grow. This is the time to discover mistakes or weakness, not to try and impress
anyone. So take a deep breath and enjoy the ride. I promise if you do a little preparation and
open your mind you’ll find your stride, grow your confidence and discover a whole lot of room for
you to be creative and responsive with your EMDR skills.