How many EMDR sessions will I need?

This is the most commonly asked question about EMDR, yet it’s so difficult to answer. The number of sessions depends on so many factors: your desires for yourself in therapy, the nature of your trauma (is it shock trauma or developmental/relational), the amount of trauma, do you have resources or a support system to bolster healing, personal readiness, your brain and body’s natural healing process, etc.
EMDR is no different from any other form of therapy in that you will decide how long you’d like to engage in therapy. Your treatment goals and any thoughts or concerns about length of treatment can of course be an ongoing conversation with your therapist.

Will we do EMDR in the first session?

Technically, yes— EMDR is a comprehensive, 8 phase full treatment approach that begins with history taking and treatment planning in the first phase. If you’ve ever experienced any kind of therapy before, most therapists are taking a history and creating a treatment plan in the first session— this is not unique to EMDR but it is an essential part of EMDR. So, that’s what I mean when I say yes, we are doing EMDR in the first session.
However, most people erroneously believe EMDR is simply the “eye movement” piece. That doesn’t come until phase 4. It’s important to note that the phases are not synonymous with the number of sessions. Phase 1 (history and treatment planning) could take 1 or several sessions. The bilateral stimulation piece of phase 4 could also take 1 or several sessions. This is another reason why it’s challenging to say how many sessions are needed.
In short, an EMDR therapist is technically always doing EMDR— it just may not be the eponymous eye movement, desensitization, or reprocessing phases.
If you’d like to learn more about the 8 phases of EMDR , click the link to review an infographic created by the EMDR International Association.

What is an EMDR session like?

As discussed above, there are 8 phases of EMDR, and you could experience one or more phases of EMDR in one session.
Upon taking a thorough history, creating a treatment plan, and consenting to this form of treatment with your therapist, you will have your first experience with bilateral stimulation by creating what we call “resources.” Resourcing allows you to access and/or create ways to cope with emotional disturbances.
In the next phases, we explore a specific event. In EMDR, we focus on how past events impact us presently and we will attend to the negative images, beliefs, emotions, and body sensations that you notice now . We will also explore what healing and resolution would look like for you. In other words, what you would like to believe about this moment in time.
After setting up the “target” memory, you will focus on the memory all while staying connected to the present as the therapist uses a form of bilateral stimulation (either side-to-side eye movements, sounds, or taps). After each set, the therapist will guide you to notice what came up for you. We will track the shifts in your experience which could be new insights or changes in the images, emotions, body sensations, or beliefs regarding the event. We will continue reprocessing until the target memory becomes less disturbing.
In the final stages, we strengthen the positive belief that you’d like associated with the memory and close the session by scanning the body for any lingering disturbance.

Can I receive EMDR therapy online? What is it like?

Yes— EMDR Therapy Austin is only providing online services, and I have found that doing EMDR online is just as effective as receiving this form of therapy in-person.
The only difference with doing EMDR online in my practice is that we use an auditory form of bilateral stimulation, rather than the physical taps that I used in-person. Both methods are accomplishing the same goal, though: activating both sides of your brain to support reprocessing.

If we agree to work together, do I have to receive EMDR therapy?

No— you have the right to decline any treatment modality or intervention that I suggest in our work together. While EMDR is an evidence-based therapy and a widely used treatment method for a number of concerns, it may not be best for your particular presenting problem. Additionally, I may not be the most appropriate therapist to treat your concern with EMDR. If this is the case, I may propose another approach or I can make referrals to other EMDR therapists who may be able to help.
If you are interested in EMDR therapy, let’s take some time to discuss this. If I believe that EMDR would be an effective form of treatment for your presenting concern, we will explore the process and possible risks and benefits before incorporating it into our work together.

Is it possible that once we’ve agreed to work together that you may not recommend EMDR for me? If so, what happens next?

Yes, this could be the case— I cannot guarantee that EMDR therapy would be the best form of treatment for you from just a 20 minute consultation. And even once we start working together I can’t know ahead of time how you will personally respond to EMDR. Every client responds differently to treatment, and it is more important that you get what you want out of therapy rather than making sure we do a certain kind of therapy. If EMDR (or any other form of therapy for that matter) is not helpful to you, we will discuss other approaches or if I am the right fit for your needs.

How long have you been providing EMDR therapy and what is your training?

I was fortunate to become trained in EMDR in March 2016 while I was in graduate school. At that stage in my schooling, I knew I wanted to specialize in trauma therapy, so I sought the best trainer in town, Rick Levinson . Because of my high-quality training and consultation, I immediately began to integrate EMDR into my clinical work as a Master’s level graduate student intern at The YWCA Greater Austin.
I continued to provide EMDR Therapy during my supervised postgraduate Licensed Professional Counselor internship in the beginning of 2017 as a way to connect with those who are ready to heal from trauma with this effective and cutting-edge treatment. During that time I began to specialize in relational and childhood trauma, therefore I sought advanced training in Attachment-Focused EMDR (AF-EMDR) with the creator herself, Laurel Parnell . Additionally, I co-created a book club that focused on honing our EMDR skill set and implementing AF-EMDR with adults who survived childhood neglect and abuse. I officially opened my private practice, EMDR Therapy Austin, in late 2018.
Now in my private practice, I provide EMDR therapy blended with other effective experiential modalities (Somatic Experiencing (SE), Internal Family Systems (IFS), and NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) ) to treat your unique concerns and the biopsychological impacts of trauma.

Do you incorporate other treatment modalities into therapy in addition to EMDR?

Yes— I offer a unique combination of EMDR blended with somatic psychotherapy, parts work, NARM, interpersonal neurobiology, and attachment theory.
Your story and concerns are unique, and you deserve treatment that fits your specific needs. While EMDR is a powerful treatment modality in and of itself, through my continued studies and training, I have found that therapy is most effective when any treatment is integrated and supported by other modalities.
EMDR Therapy Austin PLLC • Brittany Fellwock, LPC (#76947)

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