Before beginning EMDR with a client, I share EMDR demonstration videos from UTube. See my gallery section on this website for a video. Basically we process (I often use the word process to mean reprocess ) disturbing/distressing events with Bilateral Stimulation, within the protocols of EMDR therapy. There are different types of Bilateral Stimulation; audio, tactile, and visual. I use tactile BLS (Bilateral Stimulation) with my clients. If we are in my office, my clients hold Neurotek "tappers", one in each hand, that buzz back and forth. If we are online with telehealth, my clients pat their legs, back and forth (not at the same time), or they pat their shoulders back and forth by crossing their arms in a "butterfly" hug position (like the video of Prince Harry in the gallery section of this website).
More specifically, we start out by installing positive resources that we call internal resources or internal figures. For example, we choose a peaceful place and a nurturing figure to start. The place and figure can be real or imagined. We install them by fleshing out the details, the client closes their eyes and imagines the place or figure while using BLS slowly.
The client chooses a visual image that will represent the disturbing event that we will process
(reprocess). The client will identify a negative belief about themself related to the disturbing event and will identify a desired positive belief they would like to pair with the disturbing experience. Sometimes we take a measure of disturbance, on a scale from 0-10, before we start the reprocessing, then we can measure as the disturbance level reduces.
Next, the client closes their eyes, hold the BLS or engages in BLS, and focuses on the image they chose. They are free to open their eyes and take a break whenever they feel ready. There are often various images that flash through a client's mind as they focus on the chosen image. We often take breaks to check in about what the client experienced. As the client returns to the chosen image, it often fades away along with the distressing thoughts and feelings that accompanied it! Sometimes the the client cannot bring up the image at all and they have no disturbing feelings! They still know the even happened but the distressing images and feelings are gone. :)
A theory regarding why EMDR works is that traumatic events are stuck in the right side of the brain and with EMDR reprocessing, the memory is able to move to Long Term Memory. EMDR is holistic because BLS taps into both Left and Right sides of the brain, and focuses on body sensations. After reprocessing, I ask the client to close their eyes and scan their body for any areas of disturbance. If there is still disturbance, we focus on that area of the body while implementing BLS.
There are other techniques involved in the above, such as distancing techniques. For example, the client could imagine watching the disturbing memory while speeding by on a train, or while watchin it on a video screen. Distancing techniques are used to provide a feeing of safety.
EMDR should not be attempted alone to process trauma. It might appear to be easy but EMDR therapists are highly trained. There is a lot to learn, many hours of training and continued training, and many books to have read. The only part of EMDR that can be done alone, is the BLS accompanied by positive resources/internal figures to relax. BLS can also be used to reduce daily stress. See Bilateral music on Utube (use headphones).