Adjunctive EMDR Therapy

Adjunctive EMDR TherapyEMDR is a powerful supplement for traditional psychotherapy. We partner with therapists to help their clients resolve their traumatic material.  When painful feelings about a single incident continue to intrude or interfere with the progress in therapy, EMDR is helpful in resolving these issues. EMDR  is a powerful therapy that can help many people with PTSD symptoms and trauma.

Because not all therapists are trained to use this form of therapy we offer our experience and 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.

Sometimes in traditional forms of therapy clients and therapists find themselves stuck or “looping” on issues related to trauma or adverse negative life experiences that people have had. Examples of this include; clients with PTSD diagnoses who can’t get disturbing thoughts or images out of their head. They might have exhausting nightmares, be unable to sleep, feel triggered throughout the day. They might appear to be better for awhile and then something will happen that will remind them of the traumatic experience and they will struggle again.

By narrowly targeting specific traumatic memories or intrusive material, brief adjunctive EMDR can accelerate progress in traditional therapy, help the client and the primary therapist to resolve stuck points, and enrich their ongoing work.

What is Adjunctive EMDR Therapy?

The brief  adjunctive process of  EMDR is the joining of the primary therapist and the EMDR therapist to help clients when good psychotherapy has gotten “stuck”.

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.

Adjunctive EMDR therapy may also be needed as a longer term approach where EMDR is integrated in the ongoing therapy of the client, especially for clients with complex trauma or dissociation.

Clients that benefit from adjunctive EMDR therapy includes those who are disturbed by betrayal images from affairs, distressing memories from a loved ones death, unresolved grief and loss, memories from accidents, experiences in life where one felt afraid of dying or witnessing someone being hurt, a simple phobia or when therapy has plateaued.

Adjucntive EMDR therapy does not replace the therapy with the primary therapist but instead clients see both therapists. The clients’, primary therapist and EMDR therapist discuss a schedule that best meets the clients needs. A schedule can include the client seeing both therapists in a week or alternating therapy each week with both therapists or seeing the EMDR therapist weekly and the primary therapist every other week.

It is common for clients to want to process and discuss what came up for them in the EMDR session with their primary therapist. This is part of the healing process as clients will integrate new learning, discuss new insights, or changed behaviors or responses to life and relationships. They may also make connections with new skills that they want to learn or apply to life experiences.

How to Get Started With Adjunctive EMDR Therapy

In order to get started clients are generally referred for adjunctive EMDR therapy by their primary therapist. With a release of information the primary therapist reaches out to the EMDR therapist to discuss the referral, to determine if the client is a “good fit” for EMDR and to discuss the roles of the therapists.

Good candidates for brief adjunctive EMDR are generally well-functioning individuals who have a good working relationship with their therapist, and this therapist and client have indicated interest and willingness to actively collaborate with the EMDR therapist.  Besides being open to EMDR therapy a appropriate referral would be a client or the clients therapist who can identify a clear target or stuck point they wish to have addressed with EMDR.

In addition, a good candidate for adjunctive EMDR therapy would have no active substance abuse, self injury, or safety risks, including unstable living situations.

Besides determining if the client is a good fit for EMDR it is also important for the therapists to understand their roles. The primary therapists remain the therapist on record and maintain their treatment plan. The primary therapist manages  crisis calls or client emergencies. The EMDR therapists maintains responsibility the impact and effectiveness of the EMDR work both in and out of session.  In addition, active collaboration is a key component of success for the client in this partnership. Feedback about EMDR sessions is regularly provided to the primary therapist by the adjunctive EMDR therapist.

We maintain professional ethics and will only continue to work with the client if they are engaged in therapy with the primary therapist.

Adjunctive EMDR Process

The process of adjunctive EMDR therapy is as follows:

  • Primary therapist obtains a Release of Information from client and contacts EMDR specialist to discuss referral.
  • Primary therapist and EMDR therapist discuss issues related to referral and develop potential targets for EMDR processing.
  • Client makes appointment with EMDR therapist,
  • Client and EMDR therapist discusses issues for treatment, develop clear targets for treatment, thorough explanation of EMDR treatment and process, client signs open release of information between therapists and discuss EMDR therapist role in the treatment, importance of the primary therapy relationship.
  • The primary therapist and EMDR therapist agree upon a method for active and reciprocal communication to coordinate the therapy.

Referring therapists or clients interested in adjunctive EMDR therapy please call to discuss your needs.