Understanding EMDR Resourcing for stabilization

by Feb 29, 2024

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a scientifically supported approach for treating PTSD. The therapy adheres to an 8-phase protocol designed to address and alleviate distressing memories, thoughts, and sensations. The initial stage of EMDR Therapy involves resource development, aimed at constructing coping mechanisms before delving into the processing of traumatic events. This crucial step in EMDR Therapy preparation plays a vital role in promoting stabilization.

What Does EMDR Resourcing Involve?

EMDR resourcing involves the identification and establishment of new coping skills designed to manage challenging reactions that may arise during therapy. After your therapist imparts these tools to you, they can be applied outside of sessions, serving as practices for handling difficult emotions and providing a means to calm yourself in the current moment. Your therapist will guide you in developing personalized resources by introducing various techniques and determining which ones prove to be most effective for you through practice.

Types of Resourcing Used in EMDR Therapy

Butterfly Hug

With this resource, you cross your arms over your chest, so that the tip of the middle finger from each hand is placed below the clavicle or the collarbone and the other fingers and hands cover the area that is located under the connection between the collarbone and the shoulder and the collarbone and sternum or breastbone. Hands and fingers must be as vertical as possible so that the fingers point toward the neck and not toward the arms. If you desire, you can interlock your thumbs to form the butterfly’s body and the extension of your other fingers’ outward will form the Butterfly’s wings. Your eyes can be closed, or partially closed, looking toward the tip of your nose. Next, alternate the movement of your hands, like the flapping wings of a butterfly. Let your hands move freely. You can breathe slowly and deeply (abdominal breathing), while you observe what is going through your mind and body such as thoughts, images, sounds, odors, feelings, and physical sensations without changing, pushing your thoughts away, or judging. You can pretend as though what you are observing is like clouds passing by. Stop when you feel in your body that it has been enough and lower your hands to your thighs.

Safe Place

This resource asks you to close your eyes and use your imagination to go to a place where you feel safe or calm. Think about what images, colors, sounds, and so forth you imagine in your safe place. Perhaps being on the beach, in a forest or sitting on a mountain stream. A place you find most relaxing in the world. While you concentrate on the pleasant sensations in your body, your therapist will use bi-lateral stimulation (BLS), such as eye movements or tapping, to strengthen the association of a positive experience with your place. You can also use the Butterfly Hug while you concentrate on your safe or calm place. To easily bring up this resource, identify a cue word to associate with this place. Think of that word and notice the positive feelings you have. Then, your therapist will engage in additional BLS. To test that this resource is helpful to you, think about a slightly disturbing event, something very minor. Then you will bring up your safe/calm place and notice any shifts in your body, followed by additional BLS.


This resource asks you to imagine a container, such as a lockbox, plastic container, bottomless container, or balloon, to store upsetting thoughts, feelings, and images. The container should be strong and big enough to hold whatever you wish to put into it. Your container needs to have a way to add and remove memories, thoughts, and images, as well as regulate how much comes out at any one time. You will decide where to place this container in your mind. You may want to keep it at a distance from you. Once you’ve created your container, your therapist will use bi-lateral stimulation (BLS), such as eye movements or tapping, to strengthen this association in your mind. You can also use the Butterfly Hug while you concentrate on your container. Then you will want to give your container a name and the positive feelings you have when using it. To test that this resource is helpful to you, close your eyes and think about a slightly disturbing experience. Next, you will bring up your container and notice any shifts in your body. Then, picture putting this annoyance and any feelings it evokes into your container. Once the images are in the container, you can open your eyes

Therapists may also explore additional resources with you, such as somatic and meditation techniques.

Next Steps

If you’re interested in EMDR therapy for trauma, reach out to us today to set up an appointment. We can help you get back to living your life to the fullest again.

Click here for more information on EMDR therapy.