The Two Hand Interweave is a technique I use more frequently than any other. I learned about the two hand interweave in my first EMDR consultation experience, and it has many adaptations. Now it is in Robin Shapiro LICSW’s  in her book  EMDR Solutions: Pathways to Healing as well as referenced in Jim Knipe's chapter on targeting positive affect in in the same book.

This EMDR book and the follow up book, EMDR Solutions II, are  essential to your EMDR library.  She edits a number of critical EMDR approaches, including Roy Kiessling’s RDI chapter, A. J. Poky’s DeTur protocol for addictions, a wonderful chapter by Elizabeth Turner on EMDR for children using storytelling, art and other techniques, and Chapter 6, The Two Hand Interweave, by Robin Shapiro herself.  Get the books, I highly recommend them!


Shapiro uses the Two Hand Interweave when a client is stuck between two varying positions, ambivalent about choices, NC/PC, past/present view of self or others, and other adaptations. Recently there was another adaptation posted on the list serve which I have summarized below, along with my own experiences with this wonderful technique.  It can be used similar to the old gestalt two chair technique. Remember, we use interweaves to ‘nudge’ the client’s AIP when they need assistance.  You ask the client to place one side of their ambivalence in one hand, and the other side in the other hand. I usually ask the client to to choose; typically, they put the more adaptive part of the ambivalence on their more dominant side.  You can just say: ' Let your mind curiously go back and forth and notice what is in each of your hands and tell me what you notice."  Let them do this using fast BLS until they are ready to stop.

I have yet to have a client who did not have the more positive side become stronger and the more disturbing side decrease, but that could happen tomorrow, now that I said it! Shapiro reports in her chapter as well that 95 % of the time, this technique helps clients resolve conflicting feelings, emotions, thoughts,  beliefs, Examples of stuck ‘splits’ when I have used this technique include:

the traumatized child who is at fault vs. the adult who knows s/he is not

to stay or not to stay—in a job, relationship, etc

when there is no movement with the NC and PC

peaceful place either visually or somatically vs. disturbing place in trauma

physical sensations that will not resolve

use it for parts of self

any situations where client is stuck in ambivalence/has conflicting feelings that processing does not resolve


One of my EMDR clients became stuck when his spiritual resources went unresponsive in session, exactly what he has been experiencing spiritually in recent years. We’d been able to successfully process for 4-6 sessions before this impasse. Usually clients are stuck now in ways they were stuck then even if they identify it as present only.

I asked him to go back to when he had a good connection. He called this the “real God’ and the other, unresponsive God the “confusing God.”  I asked him to place one on the left and one on the right, letting him choose (Shapiro has the client choose also). Sometimes I take a SUDS and sometimes not, this time I didn’t. Then I say “notice that” and do sets until, usually, the more positive one gains power and/or the SUDS goes down.  This client had the ‘confusing God’ go gray and finally disappear while the “real God” gained clarity and power, resolving disturbance in emotions and body completely. This client didn’t need further information, but some ask, “What do you want me to do with the two sides?” I tell them “just notice” or “let the two sides interact.”

While I first learned the technique from Ardi Schoonover, LMHC, my first EMDR consultant who brought it to us from her training, I don’t know her source.   Besides Robin Shapiro’s writing that clearly states it is her technique, I have heard David Grand being credited with a version of it as well, useful for clients too fearful to process, which was recently posted on the EMDR Listserve by Susan Dean Miller.

This adaptation of the Two Hand Interweave has the person hold their peaceful place in one hand and the idea of processing trauma in the other. Without BLS, however, you have them bring their two hands together until the SUDS elevates to a 3. Repeat, each time noting that the hands take a shorter distance to elevate. When the client can hold the two hands together with the SUDS at 3, then you can start BLS processing on the issue. Susan Deane Miller wasn’t sure who got credit. She got it from David Sherwood who thought it came from David Grand.  Robin Shapiro however is the one who has published what is called the Two Hand Interweave, summarized above.  Try it, you’ll like it!

Bonnie the Blogger

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