Last week’s article referred to typical questions that many people ask about EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing). This week, I’d like to walk you through an EMDR session. This is meant to be a general overview of this very complex technique.
Preparation is essential before beginning. This will vary, depending on what you are trying to accomplish (i.e. working on trauma, a phobia, or addiction). Several steps will precede the actual process of bilateral movement. Make sure you do this with the help of a qualified practitioner. These include the following:
Planning for safety
- It is Important to establish an image that can calm you in times of stress. Not only is it essential to develop this image, it is imperative that you take the time to bring it to mind regularly so that it can be a resource for you when you are upset.
- Exploring the current problems in your life will allow you to create some focus.
- You’ll work with your therapist to get an accurate picture of your history and possible traumas.
- The two of you will begin to identify negative cognitions that may have developed from the trauma and/or other memories.
- You will also identify a positive statement to strive for.
- Setting the structure of the session includes developing the ‘target’ and will allow you move onto the next step – introducing bilateral stimulation.
- Your therapist will guide you through processing the memory with the use of bilateral movement, which can include eye movements, hand-held tappers, and/or headphones.
- At the end of the session, your therapist will determine the next step.
Everyone has a different experience after doing EMDR. Some of the comments I’ve heard have included:
- “I felt so energized when I was done.”
- “This was so exhausting.”
- “I had no idea how much this (incident) affected my life.”
- “I’d rather do talk therapy.”
- “I was hesitant to do this but am glad that we did it.”
It is important to note that EMDR is not something that is completed in a session or even a few sessions. It takes time to plan and carry out this practice. I also offer a CAUTION that you find a qualified practitioner to guide you through this process.