EMDR Series 4 - Phase 2 of EMDR

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Phase 2 is called the Preparation Phase. This phase is geared toward helping the client get ready or prepare for reprocessing disturbing experiences. While each EMDR clinician may complete this and Phase 1 differently, generally, this is what one may expect.

Rapport Building

Continued rapport building between the client and clinician will occur here. Without a strong foundation of trust, a client may not feel open to fully disclosing what they are experiencing or to provide accurate feedback when things are not working. EMDRIA’s website said it best: “If the client just wants to please the therapist and says they feel better when they don’t, no therapy in the world will resolve the client’s trauma.” (1)


I find that we may become a little more anxious or fearful when we don’t know what’s about to happen. Additional psycho-education about what EMDR is, how it works, and possible outcomes can really help ease some of the anxiety.

The clinician and client may also review what Bilateral Stimulation (BLS) is and the different ways it can be administered (i.e., eye movements, tapping, auditory tones, tactile devices). Together, the clinician and client can determine which form of BLS may be most comfortable and/or most effective.


It’s important to discuss expectations with and thoughts about EMDR treatment. It’s also important to remember that EMDR does not “take away” the disturbing images, sounds, body sensations, or emotions. Rather, EMDR helps digest that information while instilling a more adaptive way to view oneself in light of those experiences.

Skills and Techniques Development

In EMDR, there are a number of skills and techniques. These skills may be used inside and outside of the session to help when feeling dysregulated. Some of these skills may be from other modalities such as DBT. Some skills may focus on grounding and deep breathing. I like to use the following 3 EMDR-based techniques: Container, Peaceful Place, and Light Stream. Both the Container and Peaceful Place techniques will utilize slow BLS.

Other popular EMDR-based techniques that may be utilized during Phase 2 include the Spiral Technique (2), Protective/Wise/Nurturing Figures, and 4 Elements (3).

If you are curious to learn more about EMDR or are interested in beginning your EMDR therapy journey, please reach out to me via the Contact Me page on my website. You can also learn more about EMDR as well as additional EMDR therapists in your area by visiting the EMDR International Association’s website here.


(1) EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) (n.d.). Experiencing EMDR Therapy. EMDRIA. Retrieved March 25, 2024, from https://www.emdria.org/about-emdr-therapy/experiencing-emdr-therapy/

(2) [@AskCourtney]. (2021, April 25). EMDR Spiral Technique  [Video] YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uNlBHjk8AI

(3) [@Explore Transform LLC. Counseling and Therapy]. (2019, February 9). The Four Elements of Stress Reduction  [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4StCjYm8nuo

Reminder: these blog posts are meant to be purely educational and/or entertainment tools and do NOT replace psychotherapy and/or other medically necessary treatments.

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