What Happens During a Session?

What kind of preparation needs to be done before EMDR?

Before employing the actual protocol, there is much preparation that is needed.  A full assessment and gathering of history is necessary, along with demonstration that the client is able to perform a state shift, access a safe place, and develop a resource strength, among other things.  Clients are also encouraged to practice relaxation techniques and other coping skills before confronting the traumatic memory.  Once the client and clinician are comfortable that everything is in place, EMDR can be performed.

Does EMDR just work on weakening negative memories?

No.  Although EMDR is usually associated with weakening negative memories, it is also a wonderful tool for strength-building in terms of increasing an adolescent’s confidence.   By focusing on a positive memory and doing light bar stimulation, the memory is installed in his/her brain differently, where the client has more access to it.

In addition to strengthening past or recent memories, I do a lot of future template work.  This could involve a client envisioning having a particular resource that may be desirable for an upcoming event.  I find this to particularly powerful because it gets the client to be able to think ahead about how they are best going to approach a future event.  I utilize my experience as a coach to encourage clients to go outside of their comfort zone and to believe in themselves.

Do you use equipment in your work?

Yes, I use a light bar with audio stimulation and tappers.  I have found the light bar to be much more robust than hand movements. I also provide bilateral music (on a CD) for clients that have recently worked on a “Big T” trauma. This is to be utilized in between session to have a calming effect.

Ryan Long, MSW, LICSW



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