Navigating EMDR: What to Expect in a Session

Navigating EMDR | Wellspring Counselling Inc.

Navigating EMDR: A Step-by-Step Guide to What Unfolds in a Session

Having delved into the foundations, mechanics, and real-life impact of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy in our series, we now turn our focus towards understanding what actually transpires during an EMDR session. This insight aims to demystify the process and prepare individuals embarking on this transformative mental health journey.

Step 1: Pre-Session Assessment and Preparation Before diving into EMDR, therapists conduct a comprehensive assessment to understand the client’s history and identify target memories. The preparation phase also involves introducing coping mechanisms and grounding techniques to ensure a supportive environment.

Step 2: Targeting and Assessment The therapist and client collaboratively identify specific aspects of the target memory, including associated negative beliefs, desired positive beliefs, emotions, and body sensations. This assessment lays the groundwork for the therapeutic intervention.

Step 3: Bilateral Stimulation and Desensitization Central to EMDR is bilateral stimulation, involving alternating stimulation of the brain’s hemispheres through eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones. This step facilitates the reprocessing of distressing memories and reduces their emotional charge.

Step 4: Installation of Positive Beliefs After desensitization, the focus shifts to reinforcing and integrating positive beliefs into the client’s cognitive framework. This installation phase is pivotal in fostering a shift in self-perception and belief systems.

Step 5: Body Scan and Closure Clients are encouraged to acknowledge any residual bodily sensations, processing these further if necessary. The session concludes with grounding exercises to ensure the client leaves feeling stable and secure.

Step 6: Reevaluation and Ongoing Progress Subsequent sessions commence with a reevaluation of the previous work, assessing progress and determining the focus for ongoing therapy. This step ensures a tailored and evolving therapeutic experience.

The Therapeutic Alliance:

A Pillar of Success A strong therapeutic alliance between the client and therapist is instrumental in the success of EMDR. Open communication, mutual trust, and a sense of safety form the bedrock of this collaborative journey towards healing.


Understanding the flow and structure of an EMDR session is pivotal for individuals seeking to engage with this innovative therapy. The therapeutic alliance, structured phases, and adaptive approach of EMDR combine to offer a transformative pathway to mental wellness and self-discovery.

Curious about embarking on your own journey with EMDR Therapy? Explore more about the process and how it can be tailored to your unique needs with us at Wellspring Counselling. Stay tuned for additional insights and guidance in our continuing EMDR series. Book your Free 10-Min Consultation now.

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Wellspring Counselling

Wellspring Counselling is a team of certified counsellors and psychotherapists based in Greater Vancouver, BC.

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