EMDR Therapy or on Your Own: How to Get Started Using the TICES Log

May 7, 2021

About the TICES Log

TICES is an acronym for Trigger, Image, Cognition, Emotions, Sensations.  

T = Trigger, I = Image, C = Cognition, E = Emotion, S = Sensation.  The format of the TICES Log that I prefer can be previewed and downloaded at the end of this post.

The TICES log is a simple tool to discover hidden emotional forces inside you in a way that allows you to start working with them. These hidden emotional forces are often unprocessed memories from the past that are still running you.  Like a marionette puppet, your over-reactions and disturbing emotions can be like invisible strings that allow your past to control you.

EMDR Therapy helps cut the strings of the past that control us like a marionette puppet

What a relief to learn how to make those strings visible so that you can snip them and be free!

Henry’s boss reprimands him during a staff meeting Zoom call.  Anyone would be upset by that.  But Henry knows that his reaction is much more intense than other people would be in his situation.

After using the TICES Log, he realizes that his reaction links back to when he was a boy.  His Dad would call him out in front of the whole family and then there was a severe beating in the shed behind the house.

Henry discovered that there are two parts to his reaction.  The first was the normal upset of having your boss call you out in front of your colleagues.  The second part—the sense of impending doom—was as if he was re-experiencing something terrible from his past.  So, the memory that was previously under the surface, was now in full view for Henry to start working with it.

Knowledge is power.  Henry to seeing this connection meant that he was already doing some processing of the old memory that was running him without him know it.

Purpose of the TICES Log:

  • To become aware of five subconscious layers of disturbing feelings or reactions in your day:  Trigger, Image, Cognition, Emotions, Sensations
  • To learn to recognize unprocessed memories as fueling strong emotions and over-reactions to current situations
  • To identify specific triggers that cause you to re-experience emotions or reactions of unprocessed memories
  • To identify specific memories to add to your Touchstone List because they have some similarities to a traumatic memory
  • To identify specific memories to add to your Touchstone List because they show a pattern of fueling disturbing emotions and reactions in the present

Uses and Benefits of the TICES Log:

  • To give you a simple way to monitor and become aware of your reactions to things.  The TICES Log can help you see how often you respond negatively to various situations.  It can help you see patterns.  In other words, it can help you determine if your reactions cluster around certain emotions or thoughts about yourself.
  • The TICES Log can help you see which memories are “running your show,” as Francine Shapiro puts it.
  • Spending a few minutes per day working with the TICES Log helps you solve the mystery of your overblown reactions and behaviors by discovering the unprocessed memories that are running you.  Things that you once thought were random will begin to make perfect sense.
  • The TICES log helps you answer the question, “What false beliefs do I have about myself that hold me back?”  In the terminology of EMDR, we call these false beliefs about yourself “negative cognitions” because they feel true, even if you know better in your rational mind.
  • Finally, it helps you differentiate which memories you can process on your own from heavier memories that you need to reprocess with a trained EMDR therapist.

A Simple Way to Get Started

  • Print out the TICES Log form and keep it handy.  When you experience an emotion that seems more intense than the present situation calls for, try filling out as many of the five components as possible.  It’s okay if it’s just a sensation or an emotion and the other items are blank.
  • Later the same day, when you have some time, go back to what you wrote and use the AFFECT SCAN or the FLOATBACK TECHNIQUE to see if you can fill any more the layers:  T = Trigger, I = Image, C = Cognition, E = Emotion, S = Sensation.
  • Keep using your TICES Log for several days.  After you have 10 or 15 memories, look over all the entries you’ve made in your TICES Log and see if there is a pattern that links back to a specific memory.  If you find one, add that memory to your Touchstone List.
  • If you are in EMDR therapy, discuss your TICES log with your therapist.

TIP:  Approach this with curiosity.  Try not to worry about doing this perfectly.  It’s just a tool.  Play around with it.  It’s an easy way to gain some wisdom about why you feel certain disturbing emotions in particular situations. The best mindset for this is just to be curious about why you react the way you do or feel certain things in various situations.

ANOTHER TIP:  Read Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro who is the original creator of this material.

The following is a preview of the TICES Log as a PDF.  You may download it by clicking on the down arrow on the bottom of the frame.

Hamlin EMDR TICES Log

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