What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a highly successful treatment for trauma that uses knowledge from neuroscience to help the brain reprocess traumatic memories.

Traumatic memories are stored in their own encapsulated neural network in the brain. The brain cannot use its own healing processes to manage the memories, as the memories are “stuck.” The traumatized individual continues to react with high levels of anxiety, fear and distress when the memory is triggered. The “fight, flight, or flee” mechanism is then activated in the brain. From there, the brain perceives an active threat when the memory is triggered.

This neurological threat response is not something that is easily or consciously controlled. It is a basic survival instinct hard-wired into the brain. The person then responds with an array of traumatic symptoms. These can include anxiety, insomnia, flashbacks, intrusive recollections of the event, mistrust, irritability or rage, and even detachment from loved ones.

EMDR works to connect the memory into what is called the “adaptive neural network.” The traumatic blocks are removed, and the brain’s natural healing can then begin. The memory becomes part of narrative memory.  A bad thing that happened a long time ago, that has little power anymore.

 

Is is Effective?

  • Some studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three sessions.

  • Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) after only six sessions.

  • In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions.

  • EMDR is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense.

  • EMDR is effective for people not diagnosed with PTSD as well, who still are impacted by painful memories.

What is an EMDR Intensive?

An intensive is a way to deliver treatment in an intensive but short period of time, typically a Friday and Saturday, where multiple EMDR sessions per day are completed. New research shows that intensive therapy for trauma and stress can be extremely effective on symptom reduction. 

Benefits

  • Research shows that clients completing intensive treatment can make as much progress in the condensed format as in standard weekly sessions. This can eliminate weeks or months of living with trauma symptoms, and with the toll this takes on work, relationships, marriages, parenting and general wellbeing.

  • Since sessions are completed over two days (typically one of the days is also a Saturday), it greatly reduces lost work time.

  • While there is a larger upfront cost, the shorter duration of treatment over all can save money.

  • Waiting lists are long for good trauma treatment providers. Intensives have much shorter wait times, as clients are through in the same week they start.

  • Intensives are being studied in the literature as a state of the art modality for trauma.

  • Clients who are out of town or out of state can take advantage of access to excellent treatment quickly.

  • Local clients who have transportation issues or childcare complications can also make arrangements for the single weekend. This eliminates the need to have ongoing help with children or rides to therapy. 

You may contact Summer directly at sward@newspiritchristiancounseling.org for more information regarding EMDR intensives and to find out if you are a good candidate for this treatment modality.