EMDR is Overwhelming

by Bobbie

I have only had 2 sessions with a newly trained social worker. I felt fine when I left but have had outbursts, dreams and a feeling like too much is coming out and I don't really have control over it. I am afraid to continue. will this feeling go away even if I stop now or is it something I have to finish once started?

Thank you,

Ben's Answer:

I assume from your title, that the work you are doing in therapy is using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). This can be a very fast and effective method of resolving emotional traumas and other issues. However, it is not uncommon to have an "abreaction." This is when you leave a session feeling flooded, overwhelmed or emotionally triggered - rather than feeling some resolution. Sessions should always end with a grounding/centering phase, like a guided visualization, and your therapist should be aware of what you are feeling.

Though sometimes abreactions can be unexpected and unavoidable, they should always be handled in a mindful, competent way by the therapist. If strong emotions come up at home later, you should call her and let her know or discuss it in session.

I suggest you discuss this with your therapist, and tell her you want to go slower. You can still do the work, just at a different, less intense pace (assuming she is competent in her skills). Another good option may be to increase the frequency of sessions in order to help process all this emotional material while you're going though this period. Chances are it will begin to resolve if you stay with the process.

Remember, always trust your intuition more than your therapist. You are the best authority on yourself. If something doesn't feel right to you, then question it, discuss it with your therapist, and listen to your instincts.

Take Care,
Ben Schwarcz

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Feb 06, 2010
Stick with it if you can
by: Sharon

As Ben said, this can happen so get in touch with your therapist so s/he can help you with those emotions. It's natural to feel concerned because the reason you're doing the EMDR is to get rid of your unwanted feelings rather than have them come flooding back.

Ask you therapist for some techniques you can use at home between sessions so you can take control over those unwanted reactions. EFT is a good one.

As you felt so much better after the first session if you were my client I would want you to carry on with it so that you can have that good feeling as normal - but of course it's up to you.

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