Listen in to hear Jen and Melissa discuss how EMDR can be utilized as a somatic therapy.

EMDR training 9/16-9/20 -St. Louis 

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Terminology for the episode:

Somatic Psychology: the therapies that look specifically at integration of mind and body. Somatic therapies help bridge the gap between our cognitive/intellectual mind with our somatic sensory body-based experience as human beings. 

  • This helps create a better understanding of the body and the mind. 
  • In western culture, we have a difficult time separating our identity from our cognitive thoughts. 
  • Our cognitive self lies to us often because it doesn’t hold the whole truth of our human experience. 
  • Somatic psychology isn’t just focused on the body, but the integration of both the mind and body. 
  • We naturally disconnect from our body after traumatic events. 

Embodiment: knowledge that has entered into our body and become wisdom.

  • Knowledge is much more cognitive and wisdom is so much more deeper.
  • A sense of knowing even when we cognitively don’t know why. 
  • Body-wisdom and instinct

Approach with the positive sensation first:

  • Even approaching with the experience of a positive sensation can be very activating, especially if it hasn’t been felt in a long time. 
  • “It doesn’t feel safe to feel safe.”
  • The sensations and feelings that were dissociated are most likely going to be extremely uncomfortable because they were dissociated for a reason. 

It’s okay for a client to say “that’s enough for now”

  • They may need to take care of kids after the session or go back to work. 
  • The process of building tolerance to their sensations while still needing to fall back on their strategies is completely okay. 
  • Make this need explicit because these strategies are there for a reason. 
  • “What did it mean to you last time you felt this sensation?”

Why does the body matter?

Body Scan

  • What do you see in your head?
  • Negative cognition/positive cognition 
  • Emotion 
  • Body 
  • Check out Beyond Trauma’s episode 

What is below the right/left brain? 

  • Below our prefrontal cortex and mammalian brain, we have our brainstem.
  • The brainstem holds the most basic affect of circuitry that all mammals possess. 
  • The body’s physical sensation is the language of the brainstem.

EMDR as somatic therapy:

  • Release trauma from both the mind and body so that both can feel safe.
  • EMDR as a somatic therapy focuses on the holistic release of trauma and integration. 
  • EMDR is oftentimes misinterpreted and used as a cognitive therapy.
    • “What thoughts are coming up for the client?”
    • “How can I get the client to change their cognition?”
    • Creating shifts from a cognitive place first rather than the body. 
  • EMDR as a somatic therapy focuses more on how we can have that release in the body and process the stored material through the body to allow a change in cognition. 

Working towards not leaving a 1:  

  • Preparation and resourcing- How to get clients to connect to their body during this phase. 
    • Check out our episode over resourcing here
    • Looking for how a client is showing up in their own relationship with their body. 
    • Some presentations are more difficult than others. Preparation is to help wake up sensation in their body. 
    • Instigate moments in therapy that will elicit a response. (ex: squeezing hand)
    • Activating state-dependent memory  
  • Type of interweaves used- Be very intentional and specific with which interweaves to use. 
    • Start with the positive and have the groundwork laid before targeting any trauma. 
    • The Body Talk interweave- invite their body to give that physical sensation a microphone and allow it to share whatever it wants to share. 
    • Allow them to wait patiently and it’s okay to sit in silence. Oftentimes it’s another physical sensation, emotion, thought or memory that will come up. 
    • Offering compassion at the lack of shift will often cause a shift. 
    • A Shift of Focus- noticing what sensations are present in their body 
    • Body Scan- bring it in as an interweave if needed. 
  • Somatic movement in processing 
    • Utilized in all phases- “action-taking”
    • Massage therapy- helps clients get used to feeling sensations in their body
    • Self-defense class
    • Produces the activation in the body that’s needed for reprocessing. 
    • Partner this in EMDR through bilateral stimulation. 
    • Powerstancing- Professional Confidence 
  • Work within ourselves 
    • What’s happening in your body while listening to this episode? Noticing what’s coming up for you helps you understand what work you potentially need to do for yourself.
    • Embodying this in the therapy room and connecting with our body helps our clients feel safe to connect as well.