EMDR Intensives

Introducing EMDR Intensives with Jessica Wilkerson, LMFT

What are the various options for EMDR?

Many EMDR sessions are provided during a typical 50 minute therapy session.  When we schedule to engage EMDR during a client’s usual appointment time, we hit the ground running and we get a lot of healing done during that hour.

When EMDR was created, it was implemented in 90 minute sessions.  I still believe this is the most effective form, but in today’s fast paced world it can be difficult for clients to carve out the extra time during their work day.

EMDR Intensives are multiple EMDR sessions within the period of one or more days.  These are specialty sessions that are full days of healing the traumatic experiences of a person’s distant or more current past. 

What is the benefit of an EMDR Intensive vs EMDR in a weekly session?

  • Research shows that repeated EMDR treatments within a short span of time (such as one or three days) are as effective in healing as if someone had one session a week over the course of several months.
  • Since an intensive is typically a full workday over the course of multiple days, I plan one of those days to be a Saturday.  This helps most clients minimize lost work days and still have a full day off before resuming the daily grind.
  • EMDR is already an effective modality in reducing the length of treatment in comparison to talk therapy.  An intensive further reduces that length of time.  This means the relationships with romantic partners, children, siblings, colleagues, friends, and oneself are improved considerably sooner than if someone engages in weekly sessions.
  • Ideal topics for intensives: auto accidents, fire survivors, or assault.
  • Exceptions to Intensives: child abuse survivors or people with long-term traumatic events.  These clients can potentially still benefit from an EMDR Intensive, but would only be considered if they already have a regular therapist to maintain care.
  • Intensives are being studied as a state-of-the-art trauma therapy.
  • Waiting lists to get a regular, weekly therapist are long in our area and since I don’t take my Intensive clients on as weekly clients, they an get in much, much sooner.  I also try to give priority on our office waiting list to access one of the other clinicians employed in my private practice so Intensive clients can continue therapy services should they feel a need to continue working on other topics. 
    • Sometimes our pain has blinded us to normal developmental or relationtional learning: healthy communication of emotions, healthy boundaries, navigating disappointment or rejection, and more.  The issue that had been hurting for all this time took up so much energy to cope with that sometimes the things we learn in healthier situations get lost.  These topics might still be desirable to work on after healing takes place from an EMDR Intensive, and my Intensive clients get priority for scheduling regular sessions at Inspired Life Counseling.

Structure of an EMDR Intensive:

  • Preparation Phase: We will meet for a traditional session to do an assessment and ensure that an EMDR Intensive is appropriate for the healing that you’re seeking.  I will send you home with some forms to help us create our goals for therapy.  If you have a current or previous therapist I may ask to talk with your therapist to get a better understanding on how I can best help you during our intensive.  There are strengths and struggles that we can be unaware of or forget to disclose when undergoing an assessment that our therapist can shed light on and be a beautiful part of your healing journey.
  • Treatment Phase: This is typically three rounds of EMDR each day with breaks for meals and self-care in between.  We are across the stress from a spa where you can take a break and get a facial or massage and down the road from a coffee shop that sells amazing salads and breakfast foods between EMDR rounds.

EMDR Intensives are not covered by insurance.  Comparably, the overall cost of weekly sessions versus the upfront cost of an intensive is approximately equivalent or the intensive may save a client money.  This is relative to many factors regarding each client’s trauma history, existing internal resources and support systems, and therapy history.

The hourly fee is $250, and the clock stops when you leave for meals and self-care.  The average intensive is six hours per day and the number of days is dependant upon multiple factors which are discovered during your assessment.

I was trained in the standard model of EMDR in 2014 through an EMDRIA approved trainer. In 2022, I attended an advanced training by Roy Kiessling in Interpersonal EMDR and then invited him and his team to come to Chico to train my staff in his model.  To reinforce my understanding of the tenets of this model I attended the basic training again with my staff.  This means That in 2014 I received my original training, attended advanced training in RTEP/GTEP, advanced training in Interpersonal EMDR, and then attended another basic training in the updated modality.  Basic Trainings are two weekends of three full days each weekends and each are EMDRIA approved.

The creator of EMDR, Francine Shapiro, also created the organization that makes sure everyone is doing EMDR the same and according to her protocol.  The organization is called EMDRInternational Association, and it’s based in Canada.  There are many trainings to teach people how to do EMDR, but unless it’s approved by Francine’s organization it’s not considered to be the highest and most respected EMDR training.  When a therapist is referring their client to an EMDR trained clinician, they always check to make sure the clinician they’re sending their client to was trained by an EMDRIA approved trainer.  Every single training I have received has been under the umbrella of EMDRIA’s approval.

Here’s more info about EMDRIA and EMDR in general: EMDR.org