Integrating psychophysiological monitoring in EMDR treatment of PTSD- clinical examples for the use of new emotion detection algorithms to enhance treatment outcome

Yuval Oded

Chair(s): Stephanie Khalfa

Saturday 18 june 2016

11:00 - 11:30h at Everest

Categories: Neurobiology

Physiological monitoring is rarely used in therapeutical setting. Recent advances in wearable sensor technology and new algorithms for psychophysiological sensing open new ways to understand a clients' affective state in real time. The emotional brain often functions separately from the cortex and from cognitive influences (Ledoux ,1996). The ability to measure physiological changes while reprocessing traumatic memories helps the therapist to proceed with the intervention while making sure that the client is in the proper arousal zone. The ability to monitor the therapist as well as the client improves ability to create the atmosphere of safety needed for successful treatment outcome. In their work on emotional contagion, Levenson and Gottman (1983) proposed that when the autonomic nervous system (ANS) physiology of two people shows ‘‘linkage’’(i.e., one person’s patterns of activation across the ANS measures mirror those of another person), there is an emotional involvement. Cozolino (2002) describes two components of therapy that optimize neuroplasticity:

● "A safe and trusting relationship with an attuned therapist".

 ● "The maintenance of moderate levels of arousal".


Based on these findings and on the understanding of emotion regulation processes (Gross, 2003), the presentation will focus on these main points:

1. How exposure to traumatic memories is practiced while using monitoring of psychophysiological measures. Data of psychophysiological responses and recovery recorded during exposure therapy will be demonstrated. Unique findings relating to dissociative states supporting Porges' Polyvagal theory (Porges, 2011) will be presented.

2. By using constant multi-channel psychophysiological monitoring the speaker will demonstrate how the information can serve as a beacon lighting the way for psychological intervention: Planning of a personal "tailor made" therapeutic intervention, examples of improved therapeutic presence and therapeutic alliance, effective psycho- education, monitored exposure therapy and learning of self- regulating techniques.


The unique combination of real time psychophysiological monitoring with EMDR significantly improves therapists ability to pace the therapeutical process to fit the needs of his clients and in many cases, as will be demonstrated, leads to higher effectiveness of the therapy and to the empowerment of the client.

Keywords: Psychophysiology, Psychotherapy, EMDR, Emotion detection, PTSD, Stress. 

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  • Location(s)
  • plattegrond Everest