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Dual Awareness in EMDR

Dual awareness is a concept used in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. In EMDR, dual awareness refers to the simultaneous experience of being aware of both the present moment and the distressing memories or thoughts related to past traumatic events. This concept is integral to the EMDR process, particularly during the bilateral stimulation phase.

During EMDR therapy, individuals are guided by the therapist to engage in bilateral stimulation, such as following the therapist's finger with their eyes or other forms of alternating sensory input. While engaging in bilateral stimulation, clients are encouraged to maintain dual awareness.

Here's how dual awareness is typically explained and utilized in EMDR:

  • Focus on the Traumatic Memory:

  • Clients are asked to bring to mind a image that represents the worst part of a distressing memory and a negative thought that they have about themselves when they think about the traumatic event. This memory is a target memory for processing during the phases of EMDR.

  • Engage in Bilateral Stimulation:

  • While holding the traumatic memory in and thought in mind, clients engage in bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, tapping, or other forms of alternating sensory input.

  • Maintain Awareness of the Present:

  • Simultaneously, clients are encouraged to maintain awareness of their present surroundings, the therapist's presence, and any changes in their thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations during the processing.

  • Facilitate Adaptive Processing:

  • The goal of dual awareness during bilateral stimulation is to facilitate adaptive processing of the traumatic memory. By maintaining awareness of both the present and the distressing memory, clients can experience a shift in their perception and their emotional and physical responses to the traumatic event.

  • Integration and Resourcing:

  • Dual awareness is also utilized in EMDR for resourcing and integration. Clients may engage in bilateral stimulation while focusing on positive resources or affirmations to promote adaptive integration of positive experiences.

The dual awareness concept in EMDR is rooted in the idea that engaging the brain in bilateral stimulation while holding the distressing memory in mind helps facilitate the reprocessing of traumatic memories, allowing them to be stored in a more adaptive and less distressing manner.

It's important to note that EMDR should be conducted by trained and licensed mental health professionals who are familiar with the EMDR protocol and ethical guidelines. The therapist guides and supports the client throughout the process, helping them navigate dual awareness and the reprocessing of distressing memories.

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