Gentle EMDR: A precursor to standard EMDR protocol


In the last few years several EMDR clinicians have introduced new approaches which have expanded on EMDR. Two examples are Ricky Greenwald's techniques for 'running a movie' and David Grand's performance enhancement techniques using visualization. GENTLE EMDR is a similar expansion of standard protocol. GENTLE EMDR follows basic EMDR protocol with additional emphasis on the emotions and body sensations connected to the target. Visualilzation is then utilized to release these emotions and sensations one at a time until the target shows a SUDS of 0. At this point, positive cognitions are installed. The advantage of visualization is that it buffers the emotions with associated with the target, thus reducing abreactions, dissociations and resistance to further EMDR treatment. One advantage of Gentle EMDR is that a client does not need to face the target directly because emotions and body sensations are broken down into management segments. Thus, Gentle EMDR works well with clients who are too fragile to tolerate the standard protocol. One example of the use of visualization would be if the target is "being physically attacked." Clients are first asked what they feel when they think of the attack and where they feel it in their body. Next, clients are asked to visualize a river passing them, while they sit in a protective (safe) place. Finally, clients are asked how the water would appear if it was the identified emotion (such as a particular color) and to let the water flow past until the appearance of the emotional reaction dissipates. Once this is done, clients are asked to name the next emotion that eminates when thinking about the physical attack, allowing the water to 'clear' that emotion as well. When the emotions are approached in this way, the target typically becomes neutralized. The entire process is done using bilateral stimulation. Gentile EMDR is easily taught and has been well received by clinicians at Univerities and Clinical Practices in the United States.






Diane Spindler

Original Work Citation

Spindler, D. (2007, June). Gentle EMDR: A precursor to standard EMDR protocol. Poster presented at the 8th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Paris, France



“Gentle EMDR: A precursor to standard EMDR protocol,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 23, 2021,

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