Frequently Asked Questions: EMDR Therapy
What is EMDR therapy?
EMDR therapy is powerful! It is a psycho-therapeutic treatment that provides meaningful results within weeks for some clients where other methods can take months or years to be effective. In fact many studies confirm the effectiveness and success of this type of therapy within just a few therapy sessions. Millions of people worldwide have already successfully been treated by this method. There are only three evidence-based therapies for trauma: prolonged-exposure therapy (PE), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). EMDR was found to help in fewer sessions and does not require homework between sessions, making it the fastest evidence-based therapy there is. It is the classic treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD and those suffering the effects of traumatic natural disasters such as hurricanes and other forms of devastation.
Francine Shapiro, PhD, an American psychologist, developed Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy as a breakthrough therapy with special capacity to overcome the often devastating effects of psychological trauma in the late 1980s. Now 25 years later research has shown that this type of treatment is not only the most effective treatment for healing PTSD but has been shown helpful in treating other conditions such as: Personality disorders, panic attacks, performance anxiety, complicated grief, stress reduction, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, addictions, phobias, pain disorders, sexual and/or physical. It is now used in the US and around the world!
How does EMDR therapy work?
EMDR therapy can work for some issues, such as a specific anxiety or phobia, in just one session. More often, it takes place over a series of sessions based upon an eight phase system which has been tried and tested. Initial sessions enable the therapist to gather information about a client, the problem and its origins. Next, the client is encouraged to visualize a peaceful place or loving adult and just experience being there or feeling loved by the real or imagined person. This is done with the purpose of enabling the client to tolerate the trauma reprocessing in the sessions with an increased degree of safety. The client may be asked to write a list of issues or traumas to be dealt with as part of the preparation phase of EMDR therapy.
The first EMDR session is based upon the issue or trauma that the therapist and client have discussed and agreed to start on. The client is introduced to the eye movements and has been taught a stop signal in case the client wants to stop at anytime. The preparation steps allow the client to become aware of the process and to feel comfortable before starting EMDR therapy. The EMDR process requires clients to focus on four main aspects of the trauma. 1.) a visual image which is the most disturbing part of the trauma, 2.) the negative thought that they have about themselves in relation to the trauma, 3.) the emotions associated with the memory and 4.) the location of the disturbance in their body.
What types of issues is EMDR therapy affective on?
EMDR therapy can help with:
PTSD, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Fear & phobias, Stress, Grief and loss, Relationship issues, Childhood trauma, Physical abuse, Sexual abuse, Occupational stress, Combat stress, Auto accidents, Natural disaster, Violent crime, School trauma, Agoraphobia, Anger management, Social anxiety, Physical or chronic illness, Flashbacks, Nightmares, Birth trauma, Divorce recovery, Loss of self esteem, Procrastination, Perfectionism, Addictions, Compulsions/OCD, Creative blocks, Athletic performance, Goal setting and Life transitions.
Is EMDR therapy only good for trauma?
EMDR therapy has many applications but the most documented is trauma. Other areas which have found success with with EMDR are performance enhancement, panic attacks, anxiety, phobias, addictions, stress reduction, complicated grief, stage fright, public speaking, and pain in general. We may use a modified version of the standard EMDR therapy protocol to treat these issues.
Are there different types of trauma?
Trauma can be easily categorized into “Big T’s,” and “Little t’s” traumas.
A “Big T” trauma: is a single incident trauma or life changing event. A “Big T,” would be a single or series of severely traumatic experiences. Common examples of “Big T” traumas would include; war, rape and major accidents. “Big T” traumas that are single incidents can process quickly with EMDR therapy.
“Little t” traumas: are a accumulation or a series of traumatic or abusive events Several “Little t’s” can be described as a series of less traumatic events over a period of time. Some of these events may not even be recognizable to the individual as a “Little t,” but remain as implicit memory. Some examples of “Little t” traumas include; childhood neglect and abuse, repeated verbal abuse from a close family member or authority figure, bullying, domestic abuse and complicated grief. “Little t” traumas are more common than “Big T” traumas. In fact, people may not even identify them as traumatic. “Little t” traumas usually require more EMDR therapy sessions to process.
How many sessions will I need of EMDR therapy?
Treatment can be very rapid, however, the number of sessions will vary, according to the complexity of the issues being dealt with. After an EMDR session, there may be a strong sense of relief, a feeling of openness and healing. EMDR therapy is cost effective, requiring fewer sessions than traditional therapy. Relief from emotional distress often comes within the first few sessions.
Can I stay with my current therapist and still receive EMDR therapy from you?
Yes, we provide adjunctive EMDR therapy. Because not all therapists are trained to use this form of therapy we offer our expertise to supplement the ongoing therapy clients are already receiving with their primary therapist. Adjunctive therapy does not replace or interrupt ongoing therapy. It is complementary to the primary therapy relationship. With adjunctive EMDR therapy clients remain under the care and continue to receive treatment with their original therapist.
The process entails well focused and clearly defined issues to address with EMDR such as intrusive memories, flashbacks, negative thoughts or feelings about themselves or others that just don’t change or go away in traditional treatment. Usually this type of adjunctive therapy is short term (4-12 sessions) to assist clearing up any single incident trauma or simple phobias that is interfering with the client making therapeutic gains. The success of the treatment is based on well focused and clearly defined goals for the EMDR therapist as defined by the primary therapist and client.
To learn more about adjunctive EMDR therapy or the referral process please click here.