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Title: Preparing for EMDR Therapy: Essential Skills to Practice

Updated: Apr 3

Embarking on Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy can be a transformative journey towards healing and self-discovery. To make the most of your EMDR sessions, it's beneficial to practice certain skills beforehand. Here are four key skills to focus on before starting your EMDR therapy journey:

1.    Identifying Targets for Healing: Before beginning EMDR therapy, it's important to identify specific targets or memories you wish to work on during your sessions. In EMDR we call this "practicing floating back". Now sometimes memories might be hard to identify, or be felt without knowing what happened, or having a 'concret' memory of it. This is ok, a key part in building this skill, is working with your ability to be curious what is happening inside without needing to explain or intellectualize what is happening. Practice reflecting on past experiences and pinpointing the particular memories or traumas that continue to impact you. Being able to clearly articulate your targets will enhance the effectiveness of your EMDR sessions and facilitate deeper healing.

2.    Mindfulness of Thought Patterns: Develop the skill of observing where your mind tends to wander. Practice mindfulness by noticing your thoughts without judgment or attachment. A key element of EMDR is the ability to use two opposite skills, one is the ability to focus on a memory or a target, and the other ability is the ability to follow wherever your experience goes. I often explain this in session as the ability to launch a missile at a target, and once that target is reached, the ability to let the missile become a honing missile trusting the process of evolution that happens from moment to moment. This is a skill clients can practice, and it grows the more EMDR is done.

3.    Exploring Defense Mechanisms Through Parts Work: Engage in parts work exercises to explore how you instinctively defend yourself from overwhelming emotions or intense experiences. Practice identifying the different parts of yourself that may surface in response to distressing situations. By acknowledging and understanding these defense mechanisms, you can begin to cultivate compassion towards yourself and develop healthier coping strategies. (Here is a video that can guide you in this skill)

4.    Utilizing Breath Awareness for Body Sensations: Practice using your breath as a tool for connecting with and releasing tension in your body. Explore mindful breathing techniques to gently tune into any areas of tension or discomfort. As you practice breathing into these stuck or tense parts of your body, you can facilitate the release of stored emotions and promote a greater sense of relaxation and openness. This skill can be particularly helpful during EMDR therapy sessions when processing traumatic memories or challenging emotions.

By honing these essential skills prior to starting EMDR therapy, you can cultivate a strong foundation for your healing journey and enhance the effectiveness of your sessions. Remember to approach this process with patience, self-compassion, and a willingness to explore and grow.

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