Your first EMDR therapy session at ClearBlues Counselling will be an initial consultation. This time is used to establish a connection with your therapist, to make sure you’re comfortable progressing a therapeutic relationship together. Working collaboratively, your therapist will help you to identify how EMDR – and potentially other approaches – can be of benefit. While explaining the different therapy techniques and making recommendations bespoke to your needs, you’ll be able to ask any questions and discuss any concerns you may have. At this initial consultation, we’ll mutually agree on wellness goals, how your therapy will be delivered and the frequency of your sessions.
EMDR differs from other therapeutic approaches as it follows a standard eight-phase process. Each will be explored in detail at your initial consultation, starting with taking a complete history regarding your possible targets for EMDR. Targets considers your current stresses and painful memories, feelings or issues from your past, to provide the focus for EMDR. This may initially include your therapist looking at your childhood, questions related to your trauma and identifying maladaptive beliefs. In partnership with your therapist, you then develop and agree your bespoke therapy plan.
The next phase – preparation – involves learning ways to deal with anxiety and stress, creating safety plans and building up resources. For example, your therapist may help you to successfully perform mental exercises.
You will then move onto what can be seen as the hard work – actively processing the past. During the assessment, desensitisation, installation and body scan phases, you will be asked to undertake side-to-side eye movements – while simultaneously thinking about one of your targets. After describing how this makes you feel physically and emotionally – along with your mental image of that memory – attention is given to a positive and a negative belief about yourself. The set of eye movements, sounds or taps are then repeated, until the distressing memory becomes less upsetting. This works by helping the brain to process your distressing memories and return to natural information processing.
As EMDR isn’t a talking therapy, while some people choose to, there is no pressure to tell your therapist details of the memory. You may also stop the therapist at any time during a session.
Typically, EMDR sessions are longer than other therapies, lasting 70 minutes. Your initial consultation will be 50 minutes and you may also opt for 50 minute EMDR therapy sessions, should you choose.
At the end of each session, you’ll be encouraged to use the grounding techniques you’ve been taught. Your therapist wants to ensure you leave the session feeling empowered and in control. Once your EMDR therapy is successfully completed, healthy responses should replace your previously disturbing memories and present situations. Utilising this natural process, you will be free to move forward in life with a positive perspective and increased sense of personal strength.