How Do I Know if My EMDR Session Was Successful? (How Should You Feel Afterwards)

EMDR sessions can sometimes bring out strong emotions afterwards, and sometimes nothing at all-here's why

04 Apr 2023

Tag: PTSD , Depression , Anxiety , Childhood Trauma

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So how do you know if your EMDR therapy session was successful? And when it’s done, how should you be feeling? What kind of emotions will you have?

You will generally feel 1-of-3 ways post EMDR:

1) Emotional

2) Extremely Peaceful (Satori)

3) Nothing or Unsure

If you prefer, you can watch a video on this topic instead of reading this article. Here’s the link.

Feeling Emotional

First off, there are the EMDR sessions where you will be emotional afterwards, this is generally feelings of anger about what happened to you in the past or about something that you are struggling with in your daily life, or it can be feelings of sadness because of how you’ve been affected by it all. You may even shed a few tears. But no worries, there’s nothing dangerous about shedding some tears, in fact it’s a good sign because both emotions indicate that your brain and nervous system is successfully processing your traumatic memories or emotions.

Feeling Peaceful (Satori):

In Japanese Zen Buddhism the term satori refers to an inner, intuitive experience of enlightenment. Satori is said to be unexplainable, indescribable, and unintelligible by reason and logic. But mostly it is a feeling of amazing presence and inner relaxation that can often be had after an EMDR session.

Speaking personally, when I experience satori, I feel like this is the most peaceful, relaxing feeling I have ever had in my life.

Just like feeling angry or sad post EMDR, feeling peaceful after your session is a great sign that your EMDR session worked well and that your brain and nervous system is successfully processing your traumatic memories and emotions.

Nothing or Unsure

The last way you will feel after an EMDR session is nothing, or even a bit numb.

This doesn’t always mean the session wasn’t effective, sometimes it just takes a while for your nervous system to “catch up” after the EMDR. You can usually tell when this happens because you will have intense or vivid (but not necessarily bad) dreams later that night. You may also find yourself being able to easily access some old and forgotten memories from long in your past.

Not every EMDR session is a “winner,” but if you’re using the Virtual EMDR self-guided EMDR Therapy Program, this is just fine because you don’t have to waste $150 on one unsuccessful session with an EMDR Therapist, nor do you have to wait an entire week to try again.

With Virtual EMDR, you get to do all the sessions you want (anytime and anonymously) so consider just coming back and working on the same problem or issue again on another day and see how your post-session result is different.

One of the great things about having access to EMDR sessions at anytime by using the Virtual EMDR Program is that there is no pressure to make your session “perfect” or to get all your EMDR done within the one-hour session time window offered by therapists. The pressure is removed because you can just take your time.

If your session does not give you the results you wanted, which does happen sometimes, you can always come back and try again tomorrow.

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