WHAT IS EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy practiced by licensed clinicians which enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional stress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.
How It Works
The mechanism that enables this healing is similar to that of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. EMDR transforms our internal definitions of painful events on an emotional level – such as a rape survivor transforming feelings of guilt or self-disgust into a feeling of “I survived and am stronger because of it.” These events can range from traumatic incidents to accumulations of negative experiences a person may not even consider significant.
Unlike traditional talk therapy, this transformation is client driven, not based on clinician guiding or interpreting. The net gain is that clients become empowered by the same experiences that were previously debilitating them.
All of the processing takes place in your own mind, at your pace, in the privacy of your personal thoughts, which many clients report preferring over exhaustive talk therapy.
Researched & Endorsed
More than 30 clinically controlled studies have been published on the effectiveness of EMDR therapy. Some of these studies found that positive clinical results were achieved after just three EMDR sessions while others found that for more severe issues such as PTSD in Veterans following combat exposure, might require up to a dozen EMDR sessions. In comparison to traditional psychotherapy though, all of the studies found that EMDR offered a far more rapid outcome with a lasting outcome demonstrated in further follow-up studies.
There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that since 2004 it has been recognized or authorized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, SAMHSA, the World Health Organization, the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the US Department of Defense.
How I Practice EMDR
I have practiced EMDR since becoming fully certified in 2002 and have worked with well over 2,000 people on six different continents which has led me to the direct and streamlined approach I take with EMDR. I have found that people seeking EMDR want help and want resolution quickly, not prolonged over numerous sessions of talk therapy and rapport building. I start with a one hour initial assessment appointment in which I take your full psychosocial history and then provide a full explanation of EMDR, and a full demonstration of EMDR with each of the included protocols for you to choose from including eye movements, bilateral sound stimulation, or bilateral haptic (tap/touch) signals. You are led through a practice relaxation technique and at that point you and I decide together if EMDR will be right for you. From there we schedule an actual EMDR session for 90 minutes although an actual session can range from 75 to 105 minutes. Following that EMDR appointment, we then have a 30 minute reassessment appointment to determine the outcome from the EMDR session and to identify if your issue is fully resolved or if more EMDR is warranted.
In 2018 after realizing many of the clients I work with online would benefit from EMDR, I researched the possibilities of facilitating EMDR somehow virtually and discovered other EMDR therapists who have made this breakthrough so I incorporated this into my own practice as well. Following the success of virtual EMDR beginning in 2018, it was an easy transition in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, to transition my traditional office practice into an entirely virtual service which is now the only way I practice. Not being tied to an office also allows me entirely more flexibility for scheduling and I typically facilitate EMDR six days a week, serving clients on six continents (none from Antarctica yet!). You can click here to learn more about my virtual services.
The majority of clients I work with end up averaging two EMDR sessions for complete resolution of whatever issue they may be wanting to resolve. There are a fair number of clients who reach complete resolution in just one session, but these tend to be clients with a very specific issue they are wanting EMDR to address. Then a smaller number of clients I see may need three, four, or five EMDR sessions, but in my experience this is less typical. In extraordinary cases, I have had a few clients request more than 20 sessions.
I tell clients to expect a clear indication within a week of the first EMDR session to know if the session was helpful or not. In my experience I have found little gray area or clients being unsure after the first session if EMDR worked for them. In this way you will know immediately and will not be wasting time and money in weeks or months of therapy wondering if you are getting better or not, which again is quite unlike my previous work in traditional talk therapy years ago. I work to your satisfaction and you receive high quality, experienced EMDR intervention.