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How to Prepare Your Nervous System for EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a powerful form of psychotherapy that helps people process traumatic memories, reduce anxiety and depression, and overcome other psychological issues. However, before you start your EMDR therapy session, it’s important to prepare your nervous system for the process.

Trauma and the Nervous System

The nervous system is the body's communication network. When we experience events and situations in our environment, it is our nervous system that helps us process and make sense of that experience. Sometimes, experiences can be shocking, overwhelming or confusing to our nervous system, which makes it difficult for us to make sense of them. When this happens, that experience, and the energy associated with it, can remain trapped in our nervous system. This is why so many individuals who struggle with persistent anxiety, depression, unresolved childhood trauma, etc. report feeling "stuck".

EMDR therapy helps get the nervous system (i.e. communication network) back online so proper communication can take place inside your body, resulting in relief from PTSD, anxiety, depression and other mental health struggles.

EMDR Therapy can be extremely beneficial for processing overwhelming and stressful life experience; however, it can also be a challenging and uncomfortable process at times. Preparing your nervous system ahead of time can help minimize some of the discomfort you may experience during your EMDR therapy processing sessions.

How to prepare your nervous system for processing trauma in EMDR Therapy

1. Get plenty of sleep the night before your EMDR session

Your nervous system needs to be well-rested in order to have a successful EMDR therapy session, so make sure you get an adequate amount of sleep the night before.

2. Take some time for yourself before and after your EMDR session

Spend at least 10 minutes in quiet contemplation or relaxation activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation. All of these activities will help you to focus and prepare your nervous system for EMDR therapy.

3. Talk to a trusted friend or family member before your EMDR therapy session.

Sharing your thoughts with someone who is empathetic and understanding can be a great way to process any thoughts or feelings related to the therapy session and prepare yourself mentally.

4. Bring something that is comforting to your EMDR sessions.

Whether it’s a stuffed animal, a favorite book, or a special object related to your traumatic event, bringing an item that makes you feel safe and secure can help keep your mind in the right frame of mind for EMDR therapy.

By following these simple tips, you can be sure that your nervous system is well-prepared for the EMDR therapy process. With a little bit of preparation and some self-care, you’ll be ready to experience the full benefits of EMDR therapy.


For more tips on how to get the most out of your EMDR therapy sessions, grab your copy of The EMDR Therapy Progress Journal!

The chapter titled "Understanding Your Nervous System" goes into much more detail about information listed in this blog post and includes charts and visual aides!


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