Anyone else find it just so hard when starting off on our EMDR journey to just stay out the way of the EMDR processing? 🙋♀️
I am generally fine with it now but it wasn’t always the case and there are still the odd moments when I ‘forget’ and find myself talking too much.
So this is one of those chicken and egg things really. I’m not quite sure what came first, seeing some good therapy outcomes when I stayed out of the way or intentionally staying out the way and then seeing some good outcomes.
Now I never did keep a journal so it is hard to recall everything from 15 years ago when I first started with my EMDR. I can remember some cases though where I was working with complex childhood trauma in adult survivors. To be fair this would have been the majority of my caseload as I was working in secondary mental health services. I recall initially being unclear of the actual memory, we were just working with the abuse. Well that was a first problem because how did we know that things had changed if we were not clear about where we started and what we were actually focusing on.
So I think I was a bit confused in the session, this would mean that I would ask more than I needed to. When I said ‘What do you get now’ I would tend to expand on the feedback I was given, I might ask them to explain more about the memory, tell me more about how they felt or just engage in exploration as diving deep had always been the way that I had released strong emotion. So I would talk way more than I needed to. And why, I ask myself did I do that? Partly it was comforting and what I knew from the previous therapy that I was trained in, I was also confused as to what memory we were actually working on so I almost had to ask more as I had no clue where we were.
Maybe as a parallel to this, I can’t recall but I would have seen clients where the processing was different. When we worked on a target memory, when I asked ‘What do you get now’ and the client would give me a snippet I would get back to the Bilateral Stimulation and the processing would flow more naturally.
So for me these were 2 really important things that I learnt about how to make EMDR more effective with my clients. Be clear on what we are working on, if we don’t know what we have started with, we will never really know if we are making progress and moving forward. And despite an urge to interrupt, to talk more, to say something clever, to get the clients to reflect on their emotions more we need to stay out of the way as much as possible and let the clients Adaptive Information processing system to do it’s job.
The magic happens really whilst the client is focusing on the memory whilst doing a bilateral stimulation task, not when I am sharing my words of wisdom.
If you are starting off on your EMDR journey and need an extra bit of support along your way, please do have a look at my website https://theemdrsupervisor.com/ to find out more about the different packages of support I offer.