Debriefing advice: After your EMDR treatment sessions

Please note carefully: The material below is in additon to advice supplied by your therapist in your specific case. Therefore the material below is not comprehensive nor is it exhaustive. If you have any doubt about what to do, contact the therapist promptly on the 24 hour voicemail number: 07976 933096. You may wish to print this page out as a reminder.

The first half hour after an EMDR treatment session:

EMDR is not like other therapies. Treatment generates a certain amount of 'momentum' to your thinking and conscious awareness. In other words treatment doesn't just stop immediately on leaving the clinic. You will have already been reminded of this when your therapist suggested allowing an extra half an hour at least after an EMDR treatment session. It is best if you aim to 'waste' this half an hour. Actually it isn't being wasted at all. It is time to yourself to allow you to reference your awareness back in the present.

It's strongly advised that you do not drive during this period as you may find your concentration wanders off easily. Do not put yourself in unnecessary danger. Clients have reported being glad they were more aware than usual when merely crossing the road. Don't run to catch a bus or train either. The best way of spending the half hour is to reference yourself properly in the 'present'. You could merely walk around the shops or listen or watch the sights in the city centre, get yourself a tea or coffee, go window - shopping or relax down by the river.

Things that may (or may not) happen in the days that follow:

You may just experience a headache after the session, this is most likely to be down to not being sufficiently relaxed during the session itself. Remember eyes are moved by muscles and muscles tire easily - you may have used your eyes more than you are used to!

The answer to headaches: the simple answer is 'prevention'. This means making use of any relaxation exercises taught particularly guided visual relaxation, but don't forget skills you may already have such as yoga, meditation, t'ai chi etc. Actually headaches are not as common as reports of increased dreaming after EMDR. This is nothing to worry about. If you recall the dreams it is likely that they won't make much sense, with reports frequently saying that dreams "seemed chopped up into pieces", but there seems little doubt that the frequency of dreaming goes up initially with reports such as "I dreamt from the moment I put my head on the pillow until the next morning". Other clients report no increased dreaming, indeed sometimes no dreaming at all. Again don't worry this doesn't mean the EMDR is not working.

You may well become aware of new insights about what is being treated, this is a direct indication that processing is continuing between sessions. Similarly, emotionality can be regarded as important 'signposts' for your therapist, so try to keep a record or log of what is happening, as trying to recall what happened, when it happened and in what order can be very difficult at a session a week or more later. In the meanwhile make your partner or significant other aware of your need for support. If you are still worried do not hesitate to call the 24 hour voicemail number: 07976 933096

Further information to be added