After the assessment phase, and reminding the client of the stop sign and maybe a brief explanation of what is about to happen, we say “Bring up the image, the words “NC”, notice how you feel and where you feel it and let your eyes track with the ball, follow my fingers (or whichever is appropriate for the stimulus that you are using)” and BLS EMDR processing begins.
The question then becomes, when to go back to target?
Theoretically, we are processing down “channels” of information that are linked together in the neural networks, or, I suppose, neural channels. Sometimes these channels are clear and sometimes they are not, sometimes as the facilitating therapist we recognize the channel, sometimes we don’t.
In the training we teach that we go back to the target incident, memory or node, when the channel clears. We know the channel clears by the client report. We say, “What do you notice?” and depending on what is said, we either continue processing, go back to target or do some type of intervention such as a cognitive interweave, or something. Usually, we simply say, “Go with that” – i.e. continue processing.
So, we say, if you get a positive or neutral report, followed by two positives or neutrals in any combination, then go back to the target incident, memory or node.
But, life is not always so simple and there are other times when returning to target is the thing to do. Here are a few:
- You’re coming up on the end of a session, and the client is still activated and/or reporting negative information. Go back to target, check the SUD, and then consider ending the processing because it seems evident that it won’t clear before the end of the session. If you do stop at that point, consider doing a safe calm place, and or a container, and wrap up.
- The processing is going all over the place and is getting too far from the original target. This is obviously a judgement call because it is okay to process away from the target if the processing seems related and seems to be moving along.
- Blocked processing is happening and the client is either looping, stuck or hung up on a blocking belief that won’t remit, or feeder memories keep intruding on the target memory.
- The client is reporting “surface” material, such as thinking about their schedule or lunch, or something seeming unrelated.
- The therapist loses track of what is happening.
Those are a few reasons to go back to target. What are some others? What have you found? Please feel free to comment. ~Jordan