When can we accept an ecological 1?

In my experience training clinicians in EMDR, I have noticed a trend that trainees will sometimes accept a SUD of >0. Dr. Laurel Parnell also discusses this in the introduction to her book, “A Therapist’s Guide to EMDR.” She discusses a case in which the trainee believed that the Client, who was raped as a child, needed to hold on to some of her anger to protect herself, and thus not go beyond this point of reprocessing.

Another example I have noticed involves grief. Therapists might feel that maintaining some sadness, anger, or whatever the emotion makes sense for the grieving process. However, in this example, there could be a blocking belief, such as, “I have to feel sad to be connected to this person?” or something along those lines. In his workshop on grief, Dr. Roger Solomon talks of the transformation that takes place when the connection the Client has with the deceased is no longer through pain, but rather love. If we preemptively shut down the reprocessing because we believe the Client has already reached the best resolution they can, we are essentially disallowing the Client to be their most integrated and unburdened self.An example of when to accept an ecological 1: When having a certain level of fear or hypervigilance is necessary for safety. The classic example is a person who continues to live with someone who abuses him/her.

It is important when assessing the SUD, that the Client understand that a 0 is not the absence of emotion, but rather the originally memory is no longer disturbing. Shapiro uses an example in EMDR, The 3rd Edition, in which a Client feels anger that is ecologically sound. A justified level of anger could be felt that is not disturbing and thus yield a SUD of 0.

In summary, deciding to accept an ecological 1 and moving into the installation phase is a subjective process. The goal of this post was to list some guidelines and considerations. Generally, clinicians who are new to EMDR tend to accept an ecological 1 too soon.

I hope you found this helpful. Please share your thoughts and ideas.

Robert Peacock, LCSW-S

EMDRIA Approved Consultant
EMDRIA Certified Therapist

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend