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dmuldawer July 18th, 2004 07:29 PM

EMDR Experiences
When I have read books about EMDR, people describe incredible visuals and transforming memories. When I do it, I often get feelings and body reactions, but no pictures, and sometimes even no thoughts. Can I still be processing and benefitting from EMDR, even if I don't get the visuals?

Mostly what I've noticed is a kind of stream-of-consciousness thing, where I make unique associations. No major changes in life will I know when it's working?


P.S. Glad to see the list up again. I've missed it.

Carol Ann Rowland July 21st, 2004 09:37 AM

Re: EMDR Experiences
Hi there,

Without commenting on your individual situation, in my experience, some people are simply more visual than others. They may see things vividly during EMDR and may have a lot of "aha" experiences during it.

Others may simply notice shifts in body sensations, emotions, or thoughts. And of course, many people are somewhere in between and may have some visual moments or sessions and not others.

I don't find that there is any particular correlation between how much visualizing someone does and their level of progress. As long as the level of distress is decreasing and the positive cognition is strongly believed in at the end, then I would consider the EMDR to be "working".

I myself am often not a terribly visual person during EMDR. I may have different memories come up but most of the time they are not visual in nature but rather thoughts about what happened. Occasionally I do have visual imagery, but it is not the norm for me. I don't find any difference as a client in how effective an EMDR was, based on how much visualization happened. I do sometimes leave an EMDR session feeling like it was a little anticlimatic, and I may feel as if nothing happened because it was not particularly intense. I will notice, however, that the targetted issue does feel better and I generally am able to see changes in my behaviour and feelings afterwards.

Just my .02 - hope it helps.

littlethree July 21st, 2004 10:37 AM

Re: EMDR Experiences
I agree with the comments from Carol Ann. In my experiences with EMDR, I have had varied from visuals to just remembered ideas without visual and some anticlimatic feelings and sometimes wonder if anything is happening. But there is, in me at least, a feeling that things are being chipped away...slowly...but still being chipped (maybe I'll hit a particularly "cornerstone" chip and it will send a crack through all the "bad stuff" and more will begin to fall off...not yet, but maybe)

Sandra Paulsen July 21st, 2004 10:39 AM

Re: EMDR Experiences
Ms Rowland has articulated perfectly how we measure EMDR success -- by the results, not by the process itself, which is widely variable between people.

jasmine July 24th, 2004 11:19 PM

Re: EMDR Experiences
I am new and have a question concerning my stepdaughter. She is special needs and has been sexually abused by her uncle when she was 11.
she is 12 now and just got a new therapist that wants to use EMDR. I've read that emotions might get intense and fear she might not be able to articulate what is happening to her at any given time. Any thoughts from the experienced?

Sandra Paulsen July 25th, 2004 01:10 AM

Re: EMDR Experiences
The key is not whether the feelings can be articulated but rather whether the feelings can be felt.

If the therapist screens for a dissociative disorder, as is the custom, and finds no formal dissociative disorder, the EMDR will likely assist. If dissociation is present, a more complex approach is required, in which the therapist should be fluent. There may well be strong emotions involved. Strong emotions don't hurt people, unless they are blocked. That's why we tell people to "just notice it" and say it is like "scenery through a train window." This stance will enable ease of processing.

jasmine July 29th, 2004 09:55 PM

Re: EMDR Experiences
Hi, thankyou for your input. She has only seen this therapist for two sessions before e.m.d.r. was suggested. Is that enough time to make a diagnosis on dissociative disorders. I did mention to the therapist that my stepdaughter told me she talks to a voice in her head. also her school teacher has witnessed this.

Sandra Paulsen July 30th, 2004 11:56 AM

Re: EMDR Experiences
Without commenting on the specifics of this case, EMDR should not be attempted on any child talking to voices without screening for a dissociative disorder with, for example, the child or adolescent dissociative checklist, available to professionals at

jasmine July 30th, 2004 10:19 PM

Re: EMDR Experiences
how would I suggest that course of action without sounding like a lay person trying to tell a professional what to do ?

Sandra Paulsen July 31st, 2004 01:02 AM

Re: EMDR Experiences
When safety is an issue, it should be a higher priority than ceremony, etiquette, or anything else. You might print off this discussion, hand it to the therapist politely, and ask what the results were of screening for dissociative disorder with the child dissociation checklist.

If the therapist needs consultation on this subject, there are resources available to support her.

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