The EMDR drawing protocol for adults



At certain points in my clinical practice, after I began using EMDR consistently, I would have clients come in who could not describe a specific scene or image for us to use as the target, yet, they would usually have a clear negative cognition that they would give spontaneously ("I'm trash"). I am a very visual and artistic person and I used drawings in my psychodrama practice. As a result, when I began to use EMDR, it was a natural evolution for me to use drawings. I began to ask my adult clients to draw a picture that would illustrate the negative cognition. Sometimes, they would have feelings about themselves or self-perceptions that would also turn into drawings, and from these drawings, the Standard EMDR Protocol ensued. I usually ask for drawings when people come in with generalities and we need to pin down a specific target to work on. The Drawing Protocol for Adults can be helpful in narrowing down a target, using a metaphor or picture—which has a strong generalizable effect—instead of a concrete scene from the past. When using this protocol, it is usually important to assure clients that most people cannot draw better than a 6-year-old and that this is not an evaluation of artistic talent.


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“The EMDR drawing protocol for adults,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 29, 2020,

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