What is an EMDR session like?

What Is An EMDR Session Like? – Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Kalpana Murthy and today I’m going to show you what an EMDR memory reprocessing session looks like in my office. Prior to this session, we would have had a couple of sessions to identify which memory we will work with first. That’s an emotionally charged memory. I’m going to turn the camera so that you can see the EMDR light bar. This is one of the ways we get right, left eye movement to facilitate the information processing model in your brain. What you see here, is a bar with a light moving back and forth from right to left.

The light itself is not doing anything in terms of helping facilitate the moving and information. The light is serving the purpose of giving you something to look at, so that you get a nice, smooth rapid eye movement. The other way that we can facilitate the information processing model is using audio. You can wear this audio headset in addition to the eye movement or instead of and you’ll hear a tone alternating in your right, left ear. The third option that you have what is called tappers. This is a little battery operated device. You hold each disc in your hand, and you’ll feel a slight tapping or physical sensation alternating in the right and left hand.

We would start this session and you would think about the memory that you decided you want to work with, and you will connect to the emotions, physical sensations, thoughts and beliefs about yourself that you feel now in my office when you think about the memory. Then you are not talking to me, you are just watching a light as it moves back and forth or you are wearing the audio. You are just connecting to that memory and noticing what information comes up, just notice. Then after about thirty seconds I stop the light bar or the audio and I say, “What did you get?”

What did you get? means just tell me a sentence or two about, at the end of the set what information was coming up. For the most part I’m going to say go with that, meaning, pick up with where you left off and keep going. It’s a back and forth sequence like that, where you are thinking about the memory and then we are briefly talking. I am pretty much monitoring the process, kind of a guide on the side, to see that we are moving forward. In the event you have questions or the processing gets stuck, then there are some things I can do to help move it along.

An analogy to help you understand kind of what is happening during this process is let’s pretend your brain is a glass of water. The water represents all the memories and information stored in your brain right now. In that glass of water is an ice cube. The ice cube represents the stuck frozen memory that we are trying to shift. As you do the reprocessing, what is happening is that your brain is making some connections. Like the water in the glass is connecting to the ice cube, and it’s starting to melt the ice cube. As you’re processing, your brain adapts the memory and makes some new connections and some learning is happening. The form of the ice cube is changing; the form of the memory is changing. Then, when we get to the end of the reprocessing, it’s like the ice cube has melted.

Just like when an ice cube melts, the water from that ice cube is still in the glass. It didn’t go away. The memory that we’ve been working on, it is still there. Meaning, we didn’t erase the memory. If you think about it in the future, you’ll still know what happened, but when you think about it, it won’t have the emotional charge and distress that it had at the beginning of the session when we decided to work on it.

One of the good things about EMDR is you can’t do the processing wrong. It’s normal and understandable that often people are concerned how do I know I’m doing it right?

Part of my job is to help you feel comfortable during the process and to make sure that it is going smoothly and that we are working with the right information, and know what to do with it when it comes out.

If you would like to learn more about EMDR therapy, please click here. I hope this information has been of help to you. Thanks so much.