Below are suggestions for the kind of questions you can use during an EMDR session. They should be adapted and adjusted according to the client and the situation.
Safety/Resources – Use Butterfly Hug or other safe/calm protocols to create a positive resource
Image – “What image or picture represents the worst part of the incident?” “When you think of the incident, what comes to mind?” (“What do you see, hear, smell?” etc)
Body sensation – “When you think about that, what do you feel in your body?” “Where do you feel that in your body?” “What is that feeling/sensation like?”
Negative Cognition – “When you bring up that image or picture and those feelings in your body, what negative beliefs do you have about yourself?” (I statement, present tense)
Emotions/feelings – “When you bring up that incident and those negative words (negative cognition), what emotions do you feel?”
Positive Cognition – “When you bring up that picture/incident and those negative thoughts about yourself, what would you like to believe about yourself now?”
VOC – “When you think of that picture/incident, how true does that (positive cognition) feel to you now on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is untrue and 7 is totally true?” [Alternatively, ask. “How true do you think that is now?”]
Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUDS) – “On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is no disturbance and 10 is the highest disturbance imaginable, how disturbed does it make you feel?” [Alternatively, ask, “How are you doing now?”)
Desensitization – “(I’d like you to) bring up that picture, those negative words (repeat the negative cognition), notice where you are feeling it in your body, and follow my fingers.”
- Begin the BLS or eye movements slowly. Increase the speed as long as the client can comfortably tolerate the movement.
- “That’s it. Good. That’s it.”
- If emotional or disturbed: “That’s it. It’s old stuff. Just notice it.” “Imagine you are looking at it through a window.” “Think of it as happening to your old self and not you now.”
- After set of BLS “Let it go and take a deep breath.”
- “What do you get now?” or “What are you noticing now?” or “What is happening in your body?”
- If the client reports change or movement, say “Go with that” or “Just notice that” (after 2 sets of no change, ask how they are doing)
- Move onto Installation only when client reports a low SUDs
Installation of Positive Cognition
- “Do the words (positive cognition) still fit, or is there another positive statement you think is more suitable ( or fits better)?”
- “Think about the original incident and those words (positive cognition). From 1, completely false, to 7, completely true, how true to they feel now?”
- “Hold the image and words together”. Do BLS or eye movements.
- “On a scale of 1 to 7, how true does that (positive statement) feel to you now when you think of the original incident?” Check client’s experience after each set. Even if the client is disturbed, do BLS again to strengthen the positive cognition.
- If the client is not reports a 6 or less, check appropriateness and address blocking belief (if necessary) with additional reprocessing.
Body scan – “Close your eyes; concentrate on the incident and the Positive Cognition and mentally scan your body. Tell me where you feel anything.”
If any sensation is reported, do EM. If a positive/comfortable sensation, do EM to strengthen the positive feeling. If a sensation of discomfort is reported, reprocess until discomfort subsides.
Closure – (debrief) “The processing we have done today may continue after the session. You may or may not notice new insights, thoughts, memories, or dreams. If you do, just notice what you are experiencing. Take a snapshot of it (what you are seeing, feeling, thinking, and the trigger) and keep a log. We can work on this new material next time. If you feel it is necessary, call me”.