October 23, 2023

After Your First EMDR Session: What To Expect.

Discover the transformative potential of EMDR therapy. Learn what to expect after your first session and how it can lead to healing.

By Annie Wright|EMDR
After Your First EMDR Session: What To Expect.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is renowned for its effectiveness in providing rapid and enduring relief to trauma survivors. 

Beyond trauma, EMDR has also demonstrated its efficacy in addressing issues like anxiety and depression. 

Unlike traditional talk therapy, EMDR harnesses visualization, eye movements, and hand or finger motions to facilitate healing.

During an EMDR session, your therapist guides you as you hold a negative thought, process traumatic memories, and ultimately replace them with positive ones.

In this blog, we will explore the expectations and common experiences after your first EMDR session, shedding light on the transformative potential of this therapy.

Your First EMDR Session: A Unique Encounter.

Your journey with EMDR begins with your initial session, where you and your therapist establish rapport and lay the foundation for your therapeutic exploration. 

During this session, several important elements come into play:

  • History Taking: Your therapist will initiate the process by gathering a comprehensive history. This involves understanding your life experiences, both past and present, and identifying potential areas of concern.
  • Childhood Insights: As part of the initial session, you may delve into your childhood experiences. These insights help your therapist gain a deeper understanding of your developmental history, which can be instrumental in tailoring EMDR treatment.
  • Targeting Traumatic Memories: The session may involve discussing specific traumatic memories that you wish to address. These memories become the focal points for future EMDR desensitization sessions.
  • Identifying Distorted Thought Patterns: Together with your therapist, you’ll identify thought patterns associated with traumatic memories. These distorted thoughts are key targets for EMDR therapy, as they contribute to distress and negative emotions.
  • Learning About EMDR: Your therapist will educate you about the principles and processes of EMDR therapy, ensuring you have a clear understanding of what to expect in the upcoming sessions.
  • Developing Coping Skills: In the initial session, you’ll also begin to acquire basic coping skills. These skills are essential tools that will assist you in managing emotional responses and facilitating the EMDR process.
  • First Desensitization Session: Following the introductory session, you will embark on your first desensitization session. In this crucial step, you revisit past events while inducing the EMDR state—a state where you can process traumatic memories without being overwhelmed. Afterward, you discuss your experience and emotions with your therapist.

What To Expect After Your First EMDR Session?

The consequences of your first EMDR session can be both exciting and apprehensive. 

While every individual’s experience is unique, there are common threads that many clients have reported. 

After your first session, you may:

  • Heightened Awareness: You might find yourself thinking deeply about the session and its impact on your emotions and thoughts. This heightened awareness is a natural response as you begin to explore suppressed memories and emotions.
  • Physical Sensations: Some clients experience unfamiliar bodily sensations. These sensations are typically not alarming but may feel new as blocked thoughts and feelings gradually resurface.
  • Heightened Emotions: It’s common to feel more emotional than usual after an EMDR session. As the therapy works to unblock memory networks, thoughts and feelings that were once suppressed may emerge.
  • Vivid Dreams: Clients often report having vivid dreams after an EMDR session. These dreams may offer insights into your subconscious processing of traumatic memories.

Progression Through EMDR Therapy.

Beyond the immediate effects of your first EMDR session, the journey through therapy holds promise for profound transformation. 

Short-Term Relief.

In some cases, particularly for individuals with “single incident trauma,” EMDR can provide rapid relief in a relatively short timeframe

Clients may undergo approximately 6 to 12 sessions, sometimes scheduled on consecutive days. 

Comprehensive Approach.

For others dealing with more complex challenges such as “co-morbidities” (multiple symptoms like mood issues, sleep disturbances, addictions, and relationship problems) or long-standing difficulties rooted in childhood, EMDR may be part of a longer-term, comprehensive treatment plan. 

Additionally, individuals facing “Complex Trauma” resulting from sustained or repeated life-threatening situations may require extended therapy.

Your therapist, equipped with advanced training and experience, will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the most suitable treatment approach. 

Embracing The Healing Path.

With each EMDR session guided by a certified and experienced therapist, you are embarking on a journey toward healing and self-discovery. 

Even after just a couple of sessions, you’ll start to recognize your inner strength and resilience. 

As you progress through EMDR therapy, the minor side effects mentioned earlier gradually fade. 

What remains is your newfound ability to enjoy life without being ensnared by trauma, negative memories, or distorted thought patterns. 

Memories once plagued by triggers become integrated into your memory bank, no longer holding the same power over your well-being.

In conclusion, EMDR therapy offers a unique and effective path to healing and recovery. 

If you’re wondering whether you or someone you know needs EMDR Therapy and you connected with any part of this post and are presently searching for a counselor, we would be honored to offer our support to you.

At Evergreen Counseling, we understand the importance of finding a therapist who resonates with you.

We invite you to take the next step toward your well-being by booking a complimentary 20-minute consultation call with us. 

Explore our website, reach out to us here, or call us at 510-373-2723 to schedule your consultation.


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