EMDR Dissociation & Grounding

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Soft hearts, you may have read my article on zoning out, how to assess for it and what to do. I frequently send this article to patients getting started with EMDR so they can take the quiz to spot or notice their zone out or dissociation moments and then gain some tools to get their parasympathetic nervous system on board. Since writing the article I’ve come across some amazing tools that I can’t wait to share with you.

So if you haven’t yet please take the DES so you can get an idea of how much you’re here in body, but not present in mind or spirit. When you take the assessment (which can be found at the article I mentioned) please be so gentle. I understand our zoning out or not being totally in our bodies to be a protective measure. If you find yourself dissociating please send yourself gentleness by speaking to yourself kindly or understanding this dissociation as a protection.

Next, take a while to notice when you spot the dissociation arising. You may not notice it in the moment, but even noticing these zone out moments afterward can be a great beginning step. Sometimes simply having clients take the assessment and then notice when they catch themselves dissociating is helpful. There’s often nothing more to do than log this psychoeducation or information in our minds and notice when it happens. So often labeling or noticing what’s up can be the most helpful thing. It can also help to learn that it’s an actual thing and that nothing is deep down wrong with you for dissociating. It’s not your fault and it’s just a protection.

Okay now that you’ve assessed for it and noticed it I’d recommend one more thing. Get your parasympathetic nervous system on board. If you notice the dissociation and you’d like to get more in the moment then you can actually do a couple of things to get here and now:

  1. Take a breath in for four seconds. Breath out for six. Breathing in and then breathing out longer can slow the heart rate down and get your parasympathetic nervous system here with you. It can actually calm us down so we can be present in our bodies. Try a few breaths in for four and out for six and see how you feel.
  2. Put something cold on your heart. Seriously. You can put aa cold compress or even your cold hand over your heart. This can bring your parasympathetic nervous system on board. When I first learned of this tip I felt so excited because I’d naturally found it so soothing when I’d put my cold hand over my heart in times of distress or anxiety.

Well that’s all for this week’s EMDR info! I can’t wait for one more EMDR tip with you next week. If you’d like to get started with me now or you can’t wait to do therapy together then jump over here so we can get started!

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