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How to address Stuck Processing in EMDR Therapy from a NY EMDR Therapist

Why does reprocessing get stuck during EMDR Therapy?

What is stuck reprocessing in EMDR Therapy is a common question asked by therapists and clients alike. Understanding why reprocessing gets stuck and effective ways to help minimize it can have a significant positive impact on your EMDR Therapy Sessions.

Stuck Reprocessing in EMDR Therapy can occur for several reasons, including:

1. Overwhelming Emotions:

Traumatic memories often come with intense emotions. If these emotions are too overwhelming, the client may have difficulty processing the memory effectively. This flooding of emotions that interrupts EMDR Processing is known as leaving the Window of Tolerance.

2. Lack of Safety:

Clients may not feel emotionally, physically or mentally safe enough to fully engage with the traumatic memory. This can prevent them from moving through the desensitization phase. Resourcing (phase 2 of EMDR Therapy) is an important and integral part of EMDR Therapy that helps to promote this sense of safety.

3. Cognitive Interference:

Negative beliefs associated with the trauma can interfere with the processing. For example, a belief like "I deserved this" may hinder progress. This is known as a blocking belief.

4. Complex Trauma:

Some individuals have experienced complex or multiple traumas, which can make the processing more challenging and prone to looping. Writing a

How is Stuck Reprocessing Addressed in EMDR Therapy?

Therapists who are trained in EMDR Therapy are usually taught to stay out of the way as much as possible; however, if reprocessing comes to a halt, EMDR therapists can employ various strategies to address it:

1. Resourcing:

Before processing traumatic memories, therapists may help clients develop relaxation and coping skills to manage overwhelming emotions. This is especially important for clients who do not have any healthy ways of managing stress or have a very small ability to tolerate distress.

2. Somatic Interventions:

Incorporating body-based techniques can help clients ground themselves and feel safer during processing. This helps clients to feel safe enough in their body while reprocessing disturbing memories so they can feel the distress, and then ultimately, the relief.

3. Reprocessing Negative Beliefs:

Addressing and reprocessing negative beliefs associated with the trauma is crucial to moving past stuck reprocessing. Trauma is not only cognitive; however, cognition is greatly impacted by stressful life experiences because the state of our nervous system influences the quality of our thoughts (story follows state!).

4. Breaks and Self-Care:

Therapists can encourage clients to take breaks and engage in self-care to ensure they don't become too overwhelmed during sessions. Taking breaks in between sessions and during sessions is a helpful way to make sure that clients stay in the window of tolerance. This is also a helpful way to make sure that you don't get too overwhelmed. EMDR Therapy can be difficult, but taking it slow is a helpful way to ensure you get long term results.

5. Restricting the EMDR Processing:

In some cases, it may be necessary to process the traumatic memory incrementally, focusing on less distressing aspects first. In EMDR Therapy Treatment Planning Terms, this is more commonly known as using EMD or EMDr as the processing approach.

Stuck Reprocessing in EMDR therapy is a common phenomenon that can sometimes slow down the therapeutic process. However, it's also an opportunity for therapists and clients to explore and address the underlying emotional and cognitive challenges that may be hindering progress.

Through careful guidance and the application of various therapeutic techniques, clients can eventually process their traumatic memories, reduce distress, and move toward healing and recovery. EMDR therapy, with its focus on stressful life experiences and other critical elements, offers hope and support to those seeking to overcome the impact of trauma in their lives.



Dana Carretta-Stein is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and founder of Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling, PLLC, and Carretta Consulting in Scarsdale, NY.

She is a certified EMDR therapist and EMDRIA Approved Consultant and is an expert in trauma-informed care in Westchester, NY.

Dana is also a skilled business coach for wellness practitioners who are looking to build and grow their private practice.

For more information, visit


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