I came up with this flow chart during the last EMDR Therapist training. I think it is pretty good, so I thought I’d share it. Of course, I’m open to feedback if there is anything in the processing and/or protocol logic that could be updated.
The training exercise has the trainee think about their “most difficult client.” That is the one they either had or currently have that they really don’t feel good about seeing. For some therapists, admitting that they have had a client they really don’t want to see is difficult, but with a little discussion and encouragement (aka “get real”) all can find someone.
So, in the practicum pairs (trainees as therapist and client), we start with the most difficult client and then have them float it back. It invariably goes back to a childhood memory of a time they had to deal with a difficult person, like a parent or sibling and which is often emotionally unresolved. We then ask them to float back further, if necessary, to the “touchstone” event of the theme that they’re discovering. When we do this in training, most of the therapists are surprised that their current discomfort with a client is often directly related to an early life conflict, which becomes the touchstone memory.
Once the touchstone memory is revealed, we then give the ‘trainee-client’ the option to process that memory or stay with the current issue of the ‘most difficult client.’ Sometimes, that touchstone event is still raw and painful enough that the ‘trainee-client’ decides it is not appropriate for doing as a training exercise. That’s fine, we’ll just work with what is current and recent.
On the above chart then, that is the ‘not okay’ at the top and the processing goes down the left channel. As it shows, they will try to process to a ‘0’ or ‘ecological ‘1’ , do the Install, Body Scan, and Closure. On the other hand, if it doesn’t process below a 2, then they go directly to Closure. The time for the exercise is about 60 minutes, so they do what they can, just like in session.
If, after the touchstone is revealed, the ‘trainee-client’ is okay with processing it, they then go down the right ‘ok’ branch.
Going down the left side of that branch, we see that if it does not process to a ‘0’ or ‘ecological 1’ then they will go to Closure, and the exercise ends for them, at that point.
Going down the right side, we see that if the ‘touchstone’ memory processes to a ‘0’ then they go through Install. At that point, if there is time, they then start back using the Standard Protocol on the current memory/issue of ‘the most difficult client.’
Of course, you can do this with client’s, as well. Start with a current conflict or disturbing event, float it back. Once you find the touchstone event, determine if the client is up for processing it. If so, do the Standard Protocol on it and when that is complete you can either wrap up, or continue with the current event/memory.