How to prepare beforehand, or during, that allows you to benefit from EMDR sessions.

999FnR

New Here
Hi guys, had my first full on emdr session today, was expecting to feel mentally drained which I was prepared for, problem I had was I felt like I struggled to shut off and visualise certain aspects of my trauma and open up when it first started, wasn’t until towards the end of session I felt anything happening but still almost like I was holding back? has anyone got any tips on how to prepare beforehand or during that allows you to benefit from these sessions.
 

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
I journal the event we’re targeting and then journal it. I’ve found if I can’t get really good visuals going and step a little away from the fear that I won’t get as much out of it. Also consider that usually for me a lot hits afterwards not as much during.
 

Bamboo

New Here
I have this same issue 999. Even though I've been doing EMDR for a little while now, I still really struggle with getting myself not only to relax and let things go in a natural direction. But many times its like I just cant put myself inside the "place" I need to be in order to feel what i need to feel. I don't know if it's because I've been such a high anxiety / tense person for so many years that just don't really know HOW to relax or if it's because I unconsciously know what feelings will be coming if i loosen up and let it work and so i just fight it internally and try to stay shut down. Either way I'm like you in that sometimes it's quite a ways in to the session before I can get where I need to be to do the actual work. I will say that my T seems to be pretty darn good at finding ways to move things forward when I close up like that It's like he knows the right thing to tell me to try and focus on that will put me in that feeling place. It's usually seems like a very small inconsequential thing that he tells me to focus on, but by God it works almost every time. Though he seems to know when I've just shut it all down during a session and doesn't push. Just wanted you to know that while I can't offer any tips that I do myself, it's not just you. I can certainly relate.
 

Freida

MyPTSD Pro
Ya, been doing emdr for years and biggest challenge? That it can work work super slowly when its used for complex trauma. Think of an using an ice pick to chip at an iceberg.

I give my self the next day off whenever I can. Meaning I do nothing more complicated than binging netfix or playing games. Nothing that requires brain power. I know not everyone has that luxury, but anything you can take off your plate that next day will help with processing

It's super important to keep your T updated with how you are feeling both during and after the session. It's pretty easy to tweak emdr, so if you are struggling they can adjust the treatment.

And don't give up! It may take for freaking ever, but when it works? It is amazing!!!! That horrible memory that makes you want to puke becomes just a sad side note in your history. And that feeling is incredible
 

Freddyt

MyPTSD Pro
Yeah, been at it a few years now for complex events. The only thing you can really prepare for is to assess how you are doing in relation to reprocessing tasks.
When to add more is about all you can figure out.

Past that EMDR is a mystery. Stuff pops up seemingly out of no where. Memories return from who knows where. Other peoples experiences trigger memories. And last but not least when you think you know what to expect - you really had no idea what to expect.

All you can prepare for is after. Expect therapy hangover. Prepare for it to be bad and be happy when it isn't.
 

999FnR

New Here
Thanks everyone very re assuring to know I’m not alone in the shutting off side of things, it’s almost as though I know I need to go there to help as my therapist starts session with last 7 days feelings and emotions and then asks me to get to a picture in my mind of the trauma, but my brain says no don’t do this.
I find I’m ok talking about it but find it hard to keep picturing it, but I realise it’s early days and I’m hoping I can learn to relax and shut off as the sessions progress.
 
P

Paula

I long for that day. When it becomes a memory and not a feeling. 😞
It will come to a distant memory . keep being WILLING to do the work. The day after there is nothing I can do literally. I am in the thick of it now. I have been doing this for 5yrs and I am just beginning to realize how much inner work I need to keep doing. I cry hysterically during sessions. My therapist makes sure I am grounded before I leave . Its hard on me,but also on him. He tells me not to worry about him,but I due. I thought I would be healed by now. Perhaps,if I just would have opened up sooner,I would be. I must accept it for what it is,and stop beating myself up over the past I cannot change. As soon as one layer is scrubbed out like an infected wound,one takes its place.

Have your therapist ground you so you stay in the moment. Go slow,one memory at a time. Breathe. I am holding space for you to heal
 

Bamboo

New Here
It will come to a distant memory . keep being WILLING to do the work. The day after there is nothing I can do literally. I am in the thick of it now. I have been doing this for 5yrs and I am just beginning to realize how much inner work I need to keep doing. I cry hysterically during sessions. My therapist makes sure I am grounded before I leave . Its hard on me,but also on him. He tells me not to worry about him,but I due. I thought I would be healed by now. Perhaps,if I just would have opened up sooner,I would be. I must accept it for what it is,and stop beating myself up over the past I cannot change. As soon as one layer is scrubbed out like an infected wound,one takes its place.

Have your therapist ground you so you stay in the moment. Go slow,one memory at a time. Breathe. I am holding space for you to heal
Thank you so much Paula

I will admit that there are things that are better, or at least better than they were. I too am kind of "in the middle" of it I suppose. I've been fighting it quite a bit over the last year or so since the actual "thing" was brought to the surface. I KNOW that I need to do this but dammit it's hard isn't it? Over the last year I've shocked myself at how quickly my nervous system seems to respond all on it's own and just take over everything. Every time I push a little further into what happened, even if it's just "seeing" myself back there, the reactions start and there's no controlling it. My brain simply gets shut down and pushed out of the way and the feelings/amygdala/all that "body stuff" just take over. It's absolutely mind boggling to me how putting myself back "there" can illicit such a profound reaction that is ALL feeling and no thinking. That I seem to have such a complete lack of control over what my nervous system is doing.

That said, what my T promised would happen does seem to be happening. Slowly, but that's likely due to my fighting it every step of the way.
But I will say that with every small journey we take into that horrible place, my reactions intially skyrocket to a 10, then slowly, as he walks me thru and talks me thru, keeping me "here", it starts to dissipate somewhat. So while I can admit to myself that the worst/hardest part is likely still ahead, there are parts that certainly FELT like they were the hardest part at the time that I am now able to think about without having my body take over. That probably isn't the most accurate way to say it. I don't think about it. Certainly not voluntarily. But there are parts that are simply "here" now. Out in the front with other memories. Not buried. Just crazy how that works. It's difficult to explain the "shift" in it to someone who's not felt it happen. For some things I can KNOW that they are there and see them in my head now without going into full on panic. T can mention some things now and I don't "clench up inside" like I did before. Not everything, but some things.
I don't want the memories there and I certainly still push them away if they pop up. But it's still different than the way they were buried before i guess. So I'll take that as progress. For me I KNOW that is progress because I know better than anyone where my nervous system was 6 months ago compared to now. There is much to do yet. And it's going to be the really hard . But seeing how EMDR helped with the other parts gives me hope and the willingness to keep going even though so much of me wants to fight it. As so many have said, it gets worse......but it does then get better.
Thanks again for your kind words
 
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