Intensive EMDR

By Cristine Toel - 05/10/2021


In this piece I describe a processing for addressing trauma, which I am beginning to offer clients as an adjunct to their existing therapeutic work.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a powerful tool that applies bilateral movements (a brain-healing mechanism similar to the natural movements of REM sleep) while desensitizing painful, disturbing memories, feelings, and present-day triggers, and reprocesses the negative beliefs attached to those memories.

Unprocessed memories remain locked inside the amygdala of the brain, and even though 10 years may pass, the memory “frozen in time” can wreak havoc on present-day living. Therefore, a trigger in the here-and-now can activate the fight/flight/flee response (an “amygdala hijack”), causing a client to respond in an elevated manner, when they would rather remain grounded in their pre-frontal cortex.

As the client processes with EMDR, they experience an adaptive perspective around the memory, and what was once “frozen in time,” is now adapted into a more positive frame of reference; something that an individual could say, “Yes, this unfortunate thing that happened will continue to be unacceptable; however, it no longer has the ability to cause disturbance in my life.”

EMDR uses a three pronged protocol: (1) the past events that are at the root of the symptoms the client experiences in the “here-and-now” ;(2) the current triggers that cause distress; and (3) future templates, which are utilized to assist and reinforce the newly adaptive material. EMDR consists of 8 phases: initial history discovery and treatment planning, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and then reevaluation. Every client is different and the therapist adjusts the treatment plan individually.

In my practice as an EMDR therapist I have had the ability to do weekly EMDR with my local, private clients, and a more intensive approach to EMDR (multiple sessions in a week or two-week program) with our Intensive Therapy Program (ITP) clients. While weekly or bi-weekly sessions of EMDR can be highly effective, some clients need more.

Why Intensive EMDR?

Research is positive regarding intensive EMDR and shows clients can conquer their trauma symptoms, rather than live with the pain they cause.

Whether a client is looking to “jump-start” the EMDR process, continue working through an established treatment plan, or utilize specialized protocols, such as the Feeling-State Protocol for Addiction, DeTur, or Recent-Traumatic Event Protocol (R-TEP), intensive EMDR can be an excellent option.

Who would be benefit from Intensive EMDR?

  1. Someone who wants to move over the hump and begin the process of EMDR in a more thorough way.
  2. Someone who loses momentum with weekly or bi-weekly therapy because their life stressors disrupt the gains they have made.
  3. Someone whose busy schedule makes it difficult to consistently book weekly or bi-weekly appointments.
  4. Someone who has begun the process of EMDR and has more they want to do.
  5. Someone who has done EMDR in the past and has a specific life stressor they would like to focus on.

How it works:

I am offering a one to two-day in-person option, 6 hours per day (3 hours in the morning, an hour break, followed by 3 hours in the afternoon).

Clients are required to have or obtain a referral from their current therapist. I will provide their therapist a summary of what we processed/focused on and progress made.

Clients will have the opportunity to book their appointments in advance of my normal schedule, typically more than 6 weeks out.

I am available to answer any questions you may have.

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