As you would recall from the previous articles regarding Tom – our fictitious client who was suffering with intense anxiety about attending job interviews, which has resulted in him avoiding applying for new jobs. (See our previous articles about Tom on our website if you missed them).

Tom has attended two sessions of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing) now. In the first part of the EMDR treatment his performance anxiety (when he remembered his most intense anxiety/ job interview memory) was reduced from an 8-9 out of 10 to a 2 out of 10.

In the second part, the new positive belief was paired with the memory until he rated it as being true at 80% or more, where 0 is not true and 100% is absolute true.

Exposure Therapy – Reinforces EMDR

The next part involves Tom engaging in exposure therapy.

I like to think of the exposure therapy as being like the setting agent for EMDR, like concrete needing a setting agent in the right quantities to change from looking like mud – to becoming a hard surface.

Exposure therapy or desensitisation involves identifying a graduation of small steps for the person to practice or come into contact with as opposed to avoid. For Tom this would be a range of steps linked to sitting a job interview.

First, Tom identifies a list of things he has been avoiding associated with job interviews, and rates what they were before EMDR was applied, and what the rating is now:

1. Completing his resume (Before 6/10, After 2/10)
2. Meeting with a manager who was previously his boss and could be a mentor (Before 8/10, now 4/10)
3. Searching online job advertisements (Before 6/10, now 4/10)
4. Meetups with other colleagues (Before 7/10, now 4/10)
5. Meetups through Linked In with people he doesn’t know (Before 8/10, now 5/10)
6. Practicing job interviews with his partner (Before 8/10, now 3/10)
7 Attending actual job interviews (Before 8-9/10, now 5/10)

As you can see all the “before EMDR rating” is generally higher than the “now rating” out of 10.

Tom is asked to select one in particular to focus on and repeat, preferably between a 4 and 6 out of 10.

The idea is to practice this step repeatedly until it becomes boring.

He chooses to contact his ex boss for a meeting, and plans to go on to meeting up with other contacts over subsequent weeks.

He doesn’t think that he needs to do exposure therapy regarding doing his resume now, so he decides to action this over the next few days as it will be helpful to take his resume to his ex boss for ideas to improve it.

We discuss what types of questions he might want to ask his ex boss and together it’s agreed that questions like the following could be helpful to improve his confidence:

– what did he like about my job performance?
– what were some strengths he saw in me?
– was there anything he would suggest that he looks for in job applicants?
– are there any changes he would suggest for my resume / example cover letter ?

During session an imaginal exposure therapy session is provided. This involves asking him to visualise himself meeting with his boss. Seeing himself be able to speak clearly and confidently and focussing on what he enjoys about being with his ex boss. Suggestion is also made that his ex boss is able to make good suggestions about his questions. The imaginal exposure part of the session is recorded so that Tom can listen to it a number of times to see himself performing well in the meeting with his ex boss.

Tom agrees that he will action this step within the week before his next session and his experience of that meeting can be the focus of the next session.

If you’d like to suggest one of our psychologists to help someone you know – our psychologists trained in EMDR include:

Carla Bormolini
Tara Yewers
Linda Johnson

Appointments can be arranged by

– online booking at

Ph 6381 0297