ALL THE GROUNDING TECHNIQUES YOU NEED TO KNOW
PHASE TWO PREPARATION STAGE IN EMDR THERAPY
In Phase 2 EMDR Therapy—the preparation stage, therapists need to give clients tools to self-sooth and ground themselves. If you are in therapy, your therapist maybe guiding you to build a calm/peaceful place, or simply going back to the basic of JUST BREATH~~
I do have to point out, this is not a linear process. It’s not that you can learn one coping skill and move on. Learning different grounding techniques can be a lifelong thing. Implementing them can definitely be a lifelong thing. Let’s face it, it’s fun and helpful. We could all use a 30-sec break throughout our day to just breath, check in with ourselves, and stay grounded. So let’s dig in and check out some grounding techniques here!
1. Calm/Peaceful Place You can build a calm/peaceful place using your imaginary. It’s advice not to use the place where you’ve been, so there’s no negative memories or people attach to this sacred place. Since it’s imaginary, it can be anything you want—from luxury resorts, to private beach; from expansive forests, to outer space. When you are imaging this place, pay attention to the sound, the temperature, the humidity, the smell, and what you are seeing. Noticing how your calm/peaceful place is making you feel. When you get a good sense of it, NAME it. This name will be your cue word. Next time, when you want to access this place, simply say the name. (Therapists generally don’t call this a safe place or happy place anymore. We pay attention to the fact that some people may have a hard time feeling safe).
2. Container I see exercise like Dumbledore’s Pensieve. (If you are a Harry Potter fan, you know what I am talking about. The idea is that you put your thoughts and memory, things you may not be able to handle right now in a container. Again, this is imaginary, so you get to decide where you want to put this container. This exercise also incorporated mindfulness—the idea of “catch and release.” For example, you simply notice an unwanted thought, catch that thought, and release it to your container.
3. Build a team for you—a nurturing figure, a protective figure, and a wise figure. Laurel Parnell wrote this idea in her book Attachment-Focused EMDR: Healing Relational Trauma. In her book, she provided scripts on how to create this team and how to implement them.
In my own therapy experience, I notice some of my clients like to create different qualities that they like, and create their own Avatar. This can really be an enjoyable process, and you get to build a team that can continue to provide support for you.
4. Body movement. When’s the last time you stretch, take a walk, or do a dance? Notice how you body moves, notice your muscles, move in a way that makes your body feels good. There are so many Youtube videos out there that provide good resources. Just search for a 10 minutes stretch, you will be able to follow the instruction and enjoy the break.
5. Tree meditation I learned this one from Dr. Jamie Marich in her DID training. (For therapists who are interested in the training, I am providing the link here: https://icm.thinkific.com/) The idea is that you follow a guided meditation, imaging a tree, and being able to step into the tree and become one with the tree. The roots literally help you stay grounded, as you notice your strong core, and enjoy your expansive branches waving in the air.
6. Incorporate you five senses. To be honest, there are tons of grounding techniques out there. I want to ask you to think about what you like to see, what you like to hear, what you like to smell, what you like to taste, and what you like to touch. You can write your answers down and try them. And you are creating your own unique grounding skills.
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