It can often feel difficult in a session with clients to think on our feet of how to help when clients get blocked with their processing. If you want to find out a bit more about different things you can try to unblock the processing then please do read on.

Strategies for the bilateral stimulation.

One of the first things we can do when processing appears to be stuck is just change the bilateral stimulation a little. This is one of the most basic strategies but because it is so simple it’s often one that we forget!! So if we are doing eye movements we could speed them up. We could switch to tapping. We could try adding in bilateral sound.

It could help to change the direction of the bilateral stimulation,  you could do it diagonally. 

What about doubly taxing the working memory? Introduce a number of different bilateral stimulation methods at the same time. You could do eye movements whilst tapping or add sound in too. Sometimes it can help to have clients verbalise to overtax the working memory so we could ask them to repeat a statement out loud like “Tic, Tac Toe” or “1 – 2 – 3.”

This should be the first thing we should try. Sometimes this is enough to just push the processing that little so it becomes unblocked and that train continues on it’s journey.

Often these strategies are used frequently in sessions and I will often remind my clients before we start the desensitisation that we will mix up the bilateral stimulation during the session and that that’s ok just all part of the processing. However if this still doesn’t work we can try a cognitive interweave.

Distancing techniques

Sometimes the memory can feel too much for a client to work with so they are blocked in not wanting to even think about it. This can push people outside of their window of tolerance which would mean that the processing would not work anyway. 

So the aim would be to get some distance from the memory so that the processing can continue. I often ask clients to project it onto a screen. They could make it black and white. You could give clients the power by telling them they have the remote control and they can speed it up, pause and fast forward through those bits that they don’t want.

Clients could have a volume control and turn down the level of noise. We want to make the memory feel manageable for the client so they can tolerate the processing. 

Cognitive Interweaves  

A cognitive interweave is an intervention we can use when the processing is stuck and our other unblocking techniques don’t work. Interweaves work best when they are short, pithy statements that give the client the exact information that they need at that moment. To download my free cognitive interweave cheat sheet Click here

Often something is missing and the clients need to know something such as “It wasn’t your fault” or “You are safe now.” Our aim as therapists with the interweave is to say or do something that puts this information within reach of the client so they can reach out, grab it, integrate it with their memory systems and continue on with their processing. It’s like the missing piece of the train track that when fitted will keep the train moving in the right direction.

For me, I find constantly reminding myself of the unblocking techniques, having a think when I’m planning my sessions where the clients might get stuck and prepping myself for this helps keep the processing working. But I always go back to one of my favourite saying ‘Push it where it moves’ keep trying to get change and if not just try something different.

Want to find out more? You can purchase my PDF my Getting Unstuck by clicking here

And if you are unsure about whether your client is stuck with their processing, have a read of my recent blog on this very topic by clicking here.


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