1) EMDR Intensive Assessment Session
This session serves multiple purposes including determining if an EMDR intensive is a good fit for you as well as setting intentions and specific goals for the EMDR intensive. This creates an opportunity for a customized experience during your intensive that is targeted towards your specific intentions and goals. An example may be “I want to have better relationships with people”. After establishing that intention, we would specifically look at traumatic memories and negative core beliefs that are blocking you from attaining that specific goal and process those memories during your intensive.
2) Trauma Memories Are Processed in Bursts
You may be worried about processing traumatic memories for 3-4 hours straight. This is actually not the case and not recommended for even the most stable clients. Typically, we will spend some time reviewing what trauma is, symptoms of PTSD, understanding trauma in the brain, and understanding the development of negative core beliefs. We will then do EMDR resourcing which is mentioned below and helps with stabilization and preparation for processing memories. This is followed by identifying the potential targets for EMDR processing and understanding connections between current symptoms and these past target memories. Actual processing of traumatic memories is done in bursts of 45-60 minutes with breaks to debrief and relax between.
3) Strengthen the Positive Memories
In EMDR resourcing, we use some form of slow bilateral stimulation (back and forth tapping, vibration, eye movements, and/or sound) which helps to engage and soothe the nervous system while strengthening the memory or resource being activated. Since many symptoms of PTSD are related to the nervous system responding to a past trauma as if it were happening right now, being able to shift yourself out of a distressing state into a more relaxed state is not only empowering, but also significantly improves your ability to process traumatic memories safely. This stabilization phase of EMDR is incorporated into each EMDR intensive to help prepare you for processing trauma and regulating emotions and trauma responses in daily life.
4) Quick Relief from PTSD Symptoms
The goal of an EMDR intensive is to process through one significant trauma or multiple traumas in an intensive but shortened amount of time (3-4 hours). Some studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three sessions of EMDR. An EMDR intensive would basically entail 3 EMDR sessions in one! The intensive appointment length allows you to end your session at a much lower level of distress and with potentially fewer side effects following your treatment session, compared to a series of weekly appointments.
5) Less Time in Therapy, More Time Living Your Life
EMDR intensives can eliminate weeks or even months of living with trauma symptoms. The hard part in weekly therapy is devoting every single minute of every session to actually doing EMDR. Things come up in daily life and sessions are often spent problem solving, safety planning, or trying to understand emotions about situations, which are important but do not necessarily relieve symptoms of trauma.
6) Unlock Truths About Yourself
In traditional talk therapy, you may spend time exploring your thoughts and feelings about current and even past situations, but in an EMDR intensive, you will be able to rapidly make connections between your current symptoms, past experiences, and core beliefs developed throughout life. This process can be very eye opening for clients and they leave feeling as if they unlocked aspects of themselves for the first time as well as understand themselves and their responses from a completely different perspective.