Why bring up a painful memory?
When extremely painful memories are stored in the brain in a traumatic form, they keep their power to disturb you, sometimes for decades or even a lifetime. During EMDR, I will guide you into the memory, and then BLS is applied, which delinks the intense emotion from the memory, and the memory can become just something that happened to you in the past.
What happens in a session?
No two sessions are alike, because your brain will guide the healing you need to do. And there is no way to do EMDR wrong. I will guide you through the process, asking questions to direct you to the disturbing material, and then will apply the BLS. If you get stuck, I will help you get back in the flow. Sometimes processing a painful memory will bring up powerful and unpleasant feelings or body sensations. This is a normal part of the process, and such feelings usually pass within a few minutes. By the end of the session, the picture associated with the memory has often faded or changed, and the feelings you felt at the beginning will have lost much of their power. Often clients have a deep sense of well-being and empowerment come over them as an old memory is reprocessed.
Some clients decide they don’t like EMDR or they find that it doesn’t work for them as it has been described, either of which, is perfectly fine as well.
Will I be in control?
You will be in control of whether you continue or stop a session, and we will discuss the memory we will work on. Sometimes surprising feelings and perceptions come up during a session, because they are associated in your mind with the traumatic memory. Most people find this fascinating, and welcome it. I will generally encourage you to stay with whatever emerges because the resulting healing will be more complete. If you let me know you feel overwhelmed during the session, I have ways to modify the process to make it manageable. So, although EMDR is an organic and spontaneous process, you will have choices during that process.
What happens after the session?
You may continue to process the material covered in the session for hours or days afterwards. You may have vivid dreams, new insights, or have new memories surface with great clarity. Most clients find this interesting and exciting. Making note of these things between sessions will help me know how to proceed. If you feel very upset or become depressed, call me.
I do encourage clients to schedule a bit of free time after their first couple of sessions, until they know what to expect. After your first session, allowing a few minutes to walk around the block before you drive your car is a good idea. Over time, most clients go right back to their activities directly after their session without a problem. Some report feeling tired after processing, and most report sleeping soundly the night following their EMDR session as an added bonus.