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Supporting a Loved One During EMDR Therapy

On EMDR session days, your loved one may need some extra TLC from their support system. Discussing the particular needs of your loved one may aid in providing a sense of comfort and safety for them. EMDR therapy can be taxing emotionally and mentally, but also can be exhausting physically. On session days, it may be helpful to ensure your loved one receives additional support from you or others.

 Practical ways to help your family member, partner, or friend on session days may be to:

  • offer to drive them to/from their appointment

  • make sure they have a comfortable spot at home where they can rest, without distractions

  • if they have a child/children, offer to provide childcare

  • discuss ahead of time ways to manage their usual responsibilities, such as navigating their work schedule, meal planning, child pickup, pet care, etc. (this may not be needed, but it’s always good to have communicated about it)

  • remind yourself that your loved one may want to talk more about their experience, or they may need to have some uninterrupted quiet time. If possible, hold some space for them discuss with you what they covered, (if they so desire), but also, note your own boundaries.


Learn More About EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy is a safe, effective, gentle, and evidence-based approach to aid in the reduction of symptoms associated with trauma. Included in the 8 phases of treatment are history gathering and resourcing with various coping strategies. Discussing and practicing some of these coping skills with your loved one may be a great way to connect with them and to provide support if/when they feel overwhelmed.

Resources abound in aiding interested parties in understanding the ins and outs of the approach, including an approximated timeline and expected length of sessions and treatment. Every client and situation is different, so this is by far an estimated approximation.

Don’t Forget About Yourself

One of the best ways to take care of our loved ones is to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves. We have often experienced trauma or loss, ourselves – separate from or together with our loved one. “Holding space” for our loved one is effective only when we’re able to remain regulated and empathetic. If we’re finding that challenging, reaching out to talk to someone may be a helpful next step.

Encourage Them to Keep Going

Therapy, in general, can be challenging to stay the course, even when you’ve located a proficient therapist and have established great rapport. However, EMDR therapy can be additionally challenging due to how mammoth and taxing the notion of facing the traumatic experience is. Reminding your loved one that the goal of this therapeutic model is to reduce the negative impact of their experience(s) and to aid in emotional regulation and integration may help them to stay motivated in attending sessions.

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