EMDR for PTSD
Relaxation and Imagery Exercises
Once we have agreed to work on PTSD symptoms, we will practice relaxation and imagery techniques. This can include straight-forward exercises like controlled-breathing, or imagery techniques designed to reduce distressing feelings. These exercises should be practiced away from the sessions whilst calm, at first, and then practiced with increasingly stressful situations.
Discussing Upsetting Imagery
When working with EMDR, we focus on images that are associated with the traumatic incident/s. This starts with understanding the imagery, and the most upsetting aspects of it, including negative feelings and thoughts. This is necessary, as it's these images that EMDR uses to help with PTSD symptoms. We may need to do this for a number of different images.
'Processing' Upsetting Images
Once we have a list of upsetting memories that are linked with the traumatic incident/s and the symptoms you're experiencing, we will start 'processing' them. To do this, you will have the upsetting image in mind, whilst letting your mind wander where it wants. During this, you will track your eyes from left to right for around 30-60 seconds (the therapist helps with this). Then, we will 'check in' with what you're feeling and noticing. Often, the image changes - becomes less focused, for example - or you might notice different things. This is a sign that your traumatic memory, is changing and becoming a 'normal' memory.
There are a number of theories about how this works. Most theories agree that by talking through the traumatic memories and upsetting images, it helps the mind to make sense of them, and reduce the distress they cause.
Looking Beyond the Trauma
After working through each of the upsetting images, we will start to think about life after therapy, and without the traumatic memories being so troubling. This usually involves imagining future scenarios, and reducing stress and anxiety that might come up with this.