What is an EMDR session like?
There is some preparation before we jump into the "desensitization"phase of the process including implementing grounding tools. The grounding tools would be something that helps calm you down and makes you feel safe. This would be used during the "desensitization" phase if you were to get overstimulated.
You are always in complete control of the session. If at any point you get too uncomfortable, we stop. Then we would use one of your grounding techniques. The session also ends with a grouping technique.
Once we get to the "desensitization" phase of EMDR, I will have you close your eyes (if you are comfortable doing so) and focus on a memory, experience, or negative belief about yourself that we identified in the previous phases.
For example, you may want to target a specific memory such as a car accident, embarrassing moment, time you were really scared. You can focus on an experience that was ongoing such as being bullied in the fourth and fifth grade. You can even focus on a negative belief that is holding you back such as "I should've done something," I am not in control" or "I am inadequate."
You will be holding a "tapper" that will buzz (like a cell phone feels on vibrate) alternately between your left and right hand. When you eyes are closed, I will turn on the tappers and you will think about the specific target. You don't have to say anything during the "sets".
Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to do EMDR. You are not expected to have a particular outcome or feel a particular way. We work with whatever comes up for you.
After a little while (seconds to minutes) I will turn the tappers off. At that point, you are welcome to open your eyes if you like. At that time you can choose to share with me what you processed. You can say as little or as much as you feel comfortable. We then repeat the process, having you close your eyes, hold the tappers and process.
There is much more to EMDR than what you just read. This is just a brief overview of how the tappers are incorporated into the session and what your role is in the process.
To read an in-depth version of the phases used in EMDR, click here.