Typically, therapy is conducted on the basis of a single session per week. There are many reasons why this is often the most effective approach, such as giving the individual time to reflect on what the session has brought up and putting into practice techniques for self-management that are being taught.

However, there is developing evidence that this may not be the most helpful approach for some people affected by trauma. Some studies suggest that more intensive treatments are equally effective¹ and that more people complete treatment delivered this way².

Intensive EMDR means the person is given several hours of therapy during a single week. In my practice, I offer this in the form of two and a half hour sessions delivered three times over the course of a week e.g. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I am able to provide some flexibility with this in line with the individual’s personal circumstances and commitments.

There are a number of reasons why a course of intensive EMDR may be more appealing:

  • With standard weekly therapy, the traumatic material is stirred up for the individual each time. With intensive EMDR, the intensity of distress associated with a traumatic memory tends to reduce significantly so it is less upsetting when we return to it a couple of days later.
  • Any kind of trauma therapy is tough, but with intensive EMDR the individual usually rapidly sees a significant improvement in their symptoms, which helps them to persevere with the difficult process of therapy.
  • It is often challenging for people to make time for weekly therapy around work, family life and other commitments. Intensive EMDR can be carried out during a time where other commitments may be less, for example, during a holiday period or when children are staying away from home.
  • When someone decides that they really need therapy, it can be frustrating to have to wait to access a weekly therapy slot.
  • Intensive EMDRs can also be offered to people who are in therapy with another clinician (with that clinician’s involvement) when they have identified a need for trauma processing but do not offer EMDR.

If you would like a free initial call to discuss intensive EMDR or other therapy approaches, please get in touch here…

Further information on how EMDR works can be found here:

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¹ Ehlers A, Hackmann A, Grey N, Wild J, Liness S, Albert I, Deale A, Stott R, Clark DM. A randomized controlled trial of 7-day intensive and standard weekly cognitive therapy for PTSD and emotion-focused supportive therapy. Am J Psychiatry. 2014 Mar;171(3):294-304. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13040552. PMID: 24480899; PMCID: PMC4082238.

² Van Woudenberg C, Voorendonk EM, Bongaerts H, Zoet HA, Verhagen M, Lee CW, van Minnen A, De Jongh A. Effectiveness of an intensive treatment programme combining prolonged exposure and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Eur J Psychotraumatol. 2018 Jul 10;9(1):1487225. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2018.1487225. PMID: 30013726; PMCID: PMC6041781.