From the general to the specific—selecting the target memory


This article is an excerpt from the book Integrating EMDR Into Your Practice (Royle & Kerr, 2010), which is a hands-on guide to facilitate the successful integration of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) training into therapists' practice while recognizing that trainees come from a range of theoretical backgrounds. This excerpt focuses on identifying the appropriate target memory and its related negative cognition (NC) in preparation for desensitization. Clients and therapists need to understand the rationale for selecting a particular target utilizing prioritization and clustering techniques. The importance of the belief system is discussed and methods of identifying the initial targets are offered, including the floatback technique. Many practitioners experience difficulty in getting the right NC, and methods for drawing this out are illustrated. Final preparations prior to desensitization are considered as well as the importance of addressing client anxieties and expectations. Throughout the excerpt, case vignettes are used to outline cautions and common pitfalls encountered by the novice EMDR therapist.






Liz Royle
Catherine Kerr

Original Work Citation

Royle, L., & Kerr, C. (2012). From the general to the specific?selecting the target memory. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 6(3), 101-109. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.6.3.101



“From the general to the specific—selecting the target memory,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 17, 2021,

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