Maybe you’ve already booked your first therapy session for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Or perhaps you’re thinking about pursuing EMDR, but before you schedule an appointment, you want to know how you can make the most of it.

It’s normal to feel a bit confused about starting EMDR, and what you should do to ensure that you truly benefit from your sessions. After all, EMDR differs greatly from traditional talk therapy. It can be hard to picture how a typical session will proceed if you’ve never experienced it before! But there are several simple steps you can take prior to your sessions so that you can begin with a clear, calm outlook. Here are a few things to try before attending your first EMDR appointment.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

The importance of getting a good night’s sleep before any therapy session cannot be overstated. But it’s particularly important prior to an EMDR session! EMDR cues you into physical sensations, and a lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety and hypervigilance, making you feel tense and easily startled. Do your best to get eight hours of quality sleep before beginning EMDR. You’ll feel more relaxed, and although it’s natural to feel a bit anxious prior to any new form of therapy, you won’t feel the excess anxiety that a lack of sleep brings.

Take Some Time to Journal About Your Feelings

Journaling before an EMDR session can be a powerful way to check in on how you’re really feeling. Note what you’re thinking about, as well as anything that you can anticipate coming up in your therapy session. Jot down any external factors that might be affecting your emotional state or physical feelings. This could be anything from the weather to recent illnesses that might have left you feeling a bit “off.”

After clarifying your feelings on paper for yourself, you’ll be able to share your emotions with your therapist when you attend your session. You can also return to your journal after your session to note how your feelings have changed!

Carve Out Moments to Relax

It can be tough to find time to relax when you’re working full-time, handling domestic responsibilities, and going to therapy. But before your EMDR session, it doesn’t hurt to carve out a little window of time purely for relaxation. Go for a quick stroll around the block, or try doing yoga for a few minutes at home. Even if your only opportunity to relax is on the drive to your therapist’s office, put on a playlist that makes you feel good!

Keep Your Schedule Open After Your Session

Once your session has wrapped up, you might need some time to process everything that you felt and experienced. Try not to commit to anything else right after your session. If possible, engage in a hobby or ritual that serves as a healthy coping mechanism. Pop on an episode of your favorite comfort show, or curl up in a cozy spot with a book.

Ask Questions

If you’re unfamiliar with EMDR, you might have a hard time imagining exactly how your session will go. Remember, if you feel confused or uncertain about any of the finer points of EMDR therapy, you can always reach out to your therapist with your questions! There is no shame or embarrassment in asking your therapist for clarification before you go to your first EMDR appointment.

Are you wondering how to prepare for your very first EMDR session? An EMDR therapist can answer your questions. Contact us to learn more about prepping for EMDR and to book your first appointment.


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