Metaphor in EMDR practice – A Room Full of Balloons

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Holding colorful balloons
Metaphor in EMDR practice – A Room Full of Balloons

A room full of balloons is an example of a metaphor in EMDR practice. It’s one I have been using for many years in my EMDR practice. It’s funny to find that some of my consultees are telling me that EMDR trainers are now using it on their EMDR training courses as well! What a compliment 🙂

I’m also delighted that Barbara J. Hensley, Ed.D. was in contact a good while ago to ask if she could include it in her book. That was a real honor – thanks Barb! This is an old blog post – consultees have asked me to post it again, as they find it so helpful. I’m happy to do so and will have more great content coming soon. I’m also going to tell you more about the therapeutic use of metaphor in EMDR soon too.

Ok, here we go!

Often clients with numerous traumas in their history at Intake. They need some help to “normalize” what they may experience during and after the Desensitization phase (Stage 4) of EMDR therapy. Here’s a reminder of the 8 phases of EMDR.

The 8 phases of EMDR

Clients are told that they may or may not continue to process memories in the days after EMDR processing (Stage 2 Preparation). A metaphor in the form of a mental picture. It explains a concept in a way that the client can understand easily.

Metaphor in EMDR practice – the ‘how to’

Davy “If I bring you into a room full of balloons from floor to ceiling, but one balloon is tight against your face, how many balloons can you see?”

Invariably the client says “One”.

Davy “If I burst the balloon that’s against your face, suddenly you can see lots of other balloons,


those balloons were always there, you just could not see past the balloon pressed against your face.”

The same thing can happen to your traumatic memories. You have one which at present you cannot see past, but others may or may not appear over the next few days.

“This is NORMAL.

You are not going crazy, losing your mind or getting worse. You are in fact moving towards healing.”

This “normalizing” of what may or may not occur gives the client an explanation and a feeling of power over what is going on.

This is empowerment rather than disempowerment. We are working from a strengths-based perspective.

A drop of sunshine
Metaphor in EMDR practice helps to normalize the experience and empower the client

Empowering the client which can be very cathartic, given that one of the consequences of traumatic experiences is often a feeling of being powerless.

My EMDR consultees love this.

Try it – it works!