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When One Hour Once a Week Isn't Cutting It: Intensive EMDR Therapy

You've been waiting all week to meet with your therapist and have a lot to say and share. You feel anxiety about where to start first, knowing that your time is limited to 50 minutes and want to make sure to get everything in that you need to. Do you start with an update on your life? Something specific you want to work on? There won't be time for it all, so something has got to go, right? Then you have to wait another entire week to follow up and slowly chip away at the iceberg that has been hanging out in your life for all this time.

If you are seeing an EMDR therapist (to learn more about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing check this out here: there is a really good chance that you will not complete a "target" (i.e. trauma memory that is stuck in your nervous system and causing you pain) in the standard 50 min session. Which is not the end of the world, but also tends to drag out treatment. It often takes 5-10 min to "warm up" in the session, do 30 minutes of specific EMDR trauma work, then 5-10 min to "pack it back up" so that you can return to your daily life without being a hot mess. If something more significant has happened that week you definitely are going to need more time in the session to discuss it with your therapist, which means the chances of doing a decent chunk of focused EMDR work decrease. It is a game of time Tetris.


But what if it doesn't have to be this way? What if you could meet with your therapist and have a treatment plan in place that takes into special account your personality, circumstances, needs, pain points, and preferences that is not dictated by the standard weekly 50 minute sessions? What if you didn't feel so rushed to "squeeze it all in" each week during your appointment that seems to go by in the blink of an eye? What if you could walk into a full day session feeling one way about a stressful experience you had and leave feeling lighter, clearer, and that it is resolved?

Enter stage left, the EMDR Intensive Method. With EMDR intensives, your options for healing and help are much broader and available. Well respected EMDR therapist and leader Ricky Greenwald mentions that "if your tires needed to be rotated on your car, you wouldn't take your car in one week to change one tire and the next week the second tire, would you? Do why does traditional therapy seem to follow this method?"

For some, its best to change all four tires at once. EMDR intensives are not appropriate for everyone, which is why having an initial in depth consultation with your therapist to determine candidacy and appropriate fit is the first step.

Let's take a closer look at what the EMDR Intensive Model at Wilcox Wellness looks like:

Intensive EMDR can be structured several ways:

1) Weekly sessions that range from 1.5 hours to 3 hours on an ongoing basis for more long term support for a variety of problems (from the past, present, or anticipated future) going on at the same time.

2) A series (usually 6-10) of weekly 1.5 to 3 hour sessions to focus on one or two specific problems.

2) A half or full day to focus on one particular issue.

3) A series (usually 6-10) of half or full days to focus on more than one issue or a more complex issues.

4) As an adjunct to your normal weekly talk therapy sessions to work through specific stuck points.

EMDR Intensives can help with:

1) A single event trauma such as a car accident, witnessing something very scary, natural disaster, sexual assault or rape, or injury. Basically, anything that overwhelms you and was experienced at a single point in time, even if you don't consider it "trauma" but it still bothers you.

2) A recent traumatic or stressful event.

3) Problems in your relationships in the past or present.

4) Feeling anxious most of the time but you are unsure exactly why (EMDR will help pin point and resolve the root causes).

5) Childhood trauma (abuse, neglect, bullying, divorce, moving a lot).

6) Performance enhancement for athletes, creatives, performers, and executives to develop new neural pathways and resourced that will help you level up.

7) Processing the stress and chaos that was and still is the pandemic of 2020.

I am interested in Intensive EMDR therapy. Now what?

If you are currently working with an EMDR therapist and are interested in doing more intensive work, do not hesitate to ask them about meeting for longer amounts of time! Now, if you must use your insurance, most companies will not cover more than the standard 53 minute weekly session because the system is has many flaws. Not to fret though, many EMDR therapists and clients successfully work together within the confines of the mental health insurance world. Additionally, some insurance plans may reimburse you for a portion of the cost of intensive therapy as well if your therapist does not accept insurance. You just need to call the Behavioral Health number listed on the back of your card and ask about your "Out of Network" benefits. If you are working with a therapist now that is not an EMDR practitioner and feeling a bit stuck, doing one or a handful of EMDR intensives as adjunctive therapy can be a game changer. Good, qualified therapists will happily collaborate with one another to help support you in the best way possible.

The world is changing and so is the landscape of mental health treatment. If we want to feel different, we need to do different and the way therapy is structured and provided must be part of this solution.

If you are an EMDR therapist looking to incorporate the Intensive Model into your practice and need guidance, contact me, Erica Wilcox, LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant to schedule a consultation. I would love to connect and help you grow.

If you are a potential client that would like to learn if you are a good candidate for intensive EMDR therapy, contact me below to schedule an initial free 15 minute phone consultation to get on my 2022 schedule. If that call gives a green light, next step from there is to have a 2 hour in depth assessment together to determine what your intensive treatment plan would entail based upon your goals and my recommendations.


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