What to expect in an EMDR session

Man Carrying Garbage

You may have a clear, traumatic memory that jumps into your life at all of the wrong times.

You may not recognize how a historical event has influenced your life and choices.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) can help.

Our first session will be focused on discovering the target memory you would like to work on. Reviewing current issues and your history, we go through a process of clarification, noticing memories, body sensations, and thoughts.

The next step is developing the safety and security required to face the memory we have chosen. This is done by developing visual, and imaginational disconnects from the old event to return the body to a calm state.

Typically by the second or third session we are ready to open up the memory and allow all of the helpful information and experience since that time transform the perspective of the event. This is accomplished by following a specific protocol during bilateral stimulation (stimulation of alternating sides of the brain).

Bilateral stimulation is accomplished with a little machine that sits on your lap. It has a light that travels across the screen, headphones that beep, and little buzzers that lightly vibrate in your hands. I will guide you through the process, supporting your insights, keeping you grounded, and tracking the changes.

If you are willing to face your past, the changes come quickly. Some folks resolve the memory faster, some a little slower, but generally a traumatic memory can be resolved in only six sessions. It does not matter if was just uncomfortable situations that caused beliefs about yourself and the world, or severe grief, rape, abuse, accidents, or wartime trauma, they quickly transform and move to the non-issue pile of your memory bank.

For example, let’s look at a young combat vet who feels angry and anxious driving down the road on Green-Up day. Bags of garbage, some with wires sticking out, perhaps old electronics, on the side of the road that are a reminder of the improvised explosives experienced overseas. The person knows that it is Green-Up day in Vermont and that the garbage is not dangerous, but for some reason the body can’t seem to stop shaking, pounding, sweating. There is a disconnect or incongruence between the head and the body.

With EMDR the connection is reestablished, the head and body get back on speaking terms, so to speak, so that the vet can say, “those are just bags of garbage, I am safe.” The body now agrees and calms down and enjoys the ride.

I have been amazed at the changes that folks experience, and I am so thankful that I can offer the help people need to live full and fulfilling lives after trauma.

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Filed under Modalities & Techniques

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