Typically, EMDR therapy occurs in weekly or bi-weekly sessions over an extended period. However, EMDR Intensives offer a more concentrated and accelerated treatment option. In this article, I'll be discussing the utility of EMDR intensive sessions.
To understand EMDR Intensives, let's start with a brief recap of what EMDR therapy is. Developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, EMDR is a psychotherapy technique aimed at helping individuals process distressing memories and traumatic experiences. The goal of EMDR is to diminish the emotional impact of these memories, fostering healthier emotional coping. This therapy involves a structured eight-phase approach, where clients, guided by a trained clinician, identify traumatic memories, target negative beliefs, and engage in bilateral stimulation to desensitize and reprocess these memories. Check out these articles for more information about EMDR therapy:
EMDR Intensives offer an alternative to the traditional EMDR format, enabling clients to complete the therapeutic process more rapidly. Unlike the typical weekly or bi-weekly sessions, EMDR Intensives involve several hours of therapy per day, often across consecutive days. The duration and frequency varies based on individual needs and tolerance levels. For instance, in my private practice, EMDR intensive sessions might occur twice a week for a a few consecutive weeks. In addition to working in private practice, I am also a clinician with the Davidson Operational Stress Recovery Program. In this program, program participants attend EMDR sessions 3 to 4 times weekly for 4 weeks, with a break between the second and third weeks. The benefits of EMDR intensives are significant, with many clients experiencing substantial progress in a relatively short time.
As an EMDR clinician, I have to say it is a privilege to witness the incredible progress made by the courageous clients I have had the honor of working with, both in my private practice and through the Davidson Operational Stress Recovery Program. Their commitment to setting aside time for their healing and mental wellness is nothing short of remarkable. When clients engage in EMDR intensives, they immerse themselves in a process that can often yield the kind of progress that might otherwise take months to achieve with traditional weekly or bi-weekly sessions. The acceleration of this healing journey is a testament to the format and efficacy of the intensive, and to the strength and resilience of the individuals who embark on it. Observing the transformation as clients reclaim their lives rapidly, often with newfound hope and strength, is a profound reminder of the powerful impact of counselling therapy can have.
From my experience, here are some of the key benefits I've come to notice in doing EMDR intensives since 2019:
Concentration of Treatment: EMDR intensives allow for a focused and intense healing process over a shorter duration. This can be particularly beneficial for those seeking rapid relief/progress.
Deeper Exploration: The extended session length permits deeper engagement with trauma and emotional experiences, often leading to more profound insights and quicker resolution.
Minimized Interruptions: At times engagement in therapy can be interrupted by life events, meaning one might go weeks and even months between sessions. EMDR intensives offer a continuous, uninterrupted therapeutic experience.
Tailored Approach: EMDR Intensives are adaptable in format and duration, catering to the specific needs, emotional tolerance, and preferences of each client, ensuring a personalized treatment experience.
Immediate Support During Processing: Given the intensity of the therapy, having immediate and continuous support from a clinician can be crucial if challenging emotions or memories arise, providing a safety net during the reprocessing phases.
Potential for Reduced Overall Cost: While the initial investment in intensives might be higher, the condensed nature of the therapy can mean a reduction in the total cost over time compared to traditional weekly sessions.
In sum, EMDR intensives can offer an accelerated route to healing for individuals facing trauma and mental health challenges. This condensed therapy format has yielded faster and more significant results for many clients, which, I believe, makes it an attractive option for those seeking relief from distressing memories and emotional pain. Send me a message or learn more at www.livehappycounselling.com.
Please know that no therapy is one size fits all. There are many layers and approaches in counselling psychology and to people's complex experiences. This article is about EMDR therapy and may be of interest to those wanting to learn more about how this therapeutic modality can help them. As with any therapeutic approach, it's crucial to work with a qualified EMDR therapist who can assess your needs and guide you through the intensive process to ensure a safe and effective healing journey.
Bongaerts, H., Van Minnen, A., and de Jongh, A. Intensive EMDR to Treat Patients With Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series. from the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research. (2017). Volume 11, Issue 2.
Shapiro, R., Silk Forrest, M. (2013). EMDR: The Breakthrough Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety, Stress, and Trauma. Basic Books: New York.
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Susan Guttridge is a trauma-informed Master level Counsellor with the clinical designation of Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCPA). She has 20+ years experience providing individual and group therapy.