Leone Centre Glossary

Processing blocks in EMDR

Processing blocks

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic approach that can help individuals process traumatic memories. However, there are times when individuals encounter obstacles known as processing blocks. These can impede the progress of EMDR sessions, but understanding them can lead to more helpful therapy.

Common obstacles

Processing blocks in EMDR are interruptions in the therapeutic process where the individual cannot progress through the stages of trauma processing. These blocks can be emotional, cognitive, or physiological.Processing blocks in EMDR can manifest in various forms, including emotional numbness, intense distress, or a sense of being stuck. Recognising these issues is vital for both therapists and clients during the therapeutic journey.

Impact on therapy

These blocks can hinder the usefulness of EMDR sessions, leading to stalled progress and increased frustration for clients. Understanding their impact helps in adapting therapeutic techniques to suit the client’s needs.

Recognising processing blocks

Identifying processing blocks involves noticing signs such as difficulty accessing emotions, overwhelming feelings, or persistent negative beliefs. Early recognition allows for timely intervention.

Addressing blocks

Overcoming processing blocks may involve grounding techniques, cognitive restructuring, or modifying the EMDR protocol. Collaboration between the therapist and client is key to finding helpful outcomes.


What are common signs of processing blocks?
Common signs include emotional numbness, overwhelming distress, or feeling stuck during EMDR sessions.
How can processing blocks be addressed?
Processing blocks can be addressed through various techniques such as grounding exercises, cognitive restructuring, or adjusting the EMDR protocol.


  1. EMDR International Association – About EMDR Therapy
  2. Verywell Mind – EMDR Therapy
  3. Psychology Today – EMDR Therapy
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision