EMDR Therapy reprocessing involves three central components: you activate a traumatic memory, notice what comes up as you interact with the memory, and you do this while your brain receives a left-right stimulation.  Noticing is the bright yellow line in the center of the EMDR road.  When good things come, they come to you as a function of activation, noticing, and stimulation.  Like all healing, it comes everywhere and all at once.  Healing usually comes in ways that are fully formed and intensely usable.  But, it must come to you.  It will flee if you move toward it too purposefully, with too much urgency, or with too much agenda.  Chasing anything is often a block or a bypass in EMDR reprocessing.  If you have the need to insist that your healing comes to you in a very specific way, EMDR may not be the best recovery model to guide your recovery.

Clients often approach trauma with urgent questions or agendas.  They want things to make sense on the thought channel.  In reprocessing, I sometimes hear one version of the following:

  • Why did this happen to me?
  • Why did my parents treat me so badly?
  • Am I ever going to be okay?
  • I need to figure out how to forgive them.
  • I need to show them just how much they hurt me.
  • I must be able to remember the missing parts of that memory.
  • I need to make this okay as quickly as possible.

During check-ins, I may provide the following guidance before the next set if the client appears to be looping or stuck because he is actively pursuing an agenda rather than noticing what is coming:

EMDR is not very good at providing answers to urgent questions.  It makes perfect sense that this concern is coming to you right now. But, you probably will not be able to figure this out today.  If you play that difficult memory and notice deeply what comes to you with as little judgement and interpretation as possible, deep healing is likely to come to you.  As healing comes, we often find that these questions lose some their urgency.  You’re doing great.  On the next set, play that memory and just notice what comes to you on any channel.  Whatever comes is okay. Just notice it.  Healing can come through the process of noticing.