FAQ about EMDR Therapy

Why haven’t I heard of EMDR therapy before?

That is a very good question! EMDR therapy has received international recognition particularly in the USA and Europe by a number of leading health and government organizations. However, just as Australia is lagging behind in technological developments (like investing in renewable energy and the Internet!), it has been slow to adopt and embrace this promising treatment approach. Sadly, from my conversations with fellow health professionals, particularly GPs, many haven’t heard of EMDR before! There are only a small community of EMDR-trained therapists and psychologists in Australia at the present but it is hoped that this number grows in time.

How do I know that EMDR therapy is not another fad or ‘miracle cure’ thrown around?

Your skepticism and suspicion is certainly understood given the large amounts of information that the Internet bombards us with these days. EMDR, however, is an extensively researched and documented treatment approach in scientific journals. It has been around since the late 1980s and has only grown and evolved into what it is today. Also, as mentioned earlier, it has received the backing of many recognised national and international health and government bodies.

Does EMDR therapy wipe out my memories?

No. Your memories will still remain intact as EMDR does not erase them. The main difference is that there will no longer be any emotional disturbance found in your memories as unpleasant feelings would have been resolved during reprocessing.

Will EMDR still work for me if I have trouble doing the eye movements?

Not to worry! Eye movements are just one method of doing bilateral stimulation in EMDR so it isn't a deal-breaker if you struggle with it! If you struggle with eye movements for whatever reason, there are also tactile (i.e. physical tapping on a body part) and auditory (i.e. tones played in each ear) methods which can also work. (Some of my clients actually find the tapping method works better for them!) This however, is down to what works best for the individual.

Is EMDR therapy the same as Hypnosis?

No. During an EMDR session, the client is awake and alert and in control at all times. The healing that takes place with EMDR is much faster than with hypnotherapy. Like hypnosis, EMDR seems to work with the unconscious mind, bringing into consciousness the repressed thoughts and feelings that must be experienced again in order to release their energetic hold on the person.

How long is a typical EMDR therapy session?

Each session usually lasts 60 minutes, which is similar to a typical psychology appointment.

How long does it take to go through and/or get results with EMDR therapy?

There is no simple answer to this as it depends on a number of factors including the nature and complexity of the issue/trauma, the degree of social support currently present, the individual's ability to regulate and tolerate feelings, and speed of processing. Also, it depends on whether you are wanting to address a single traumatic episode, or persistent traumatic period. Most of my clients come to me to work on persistent trauma that they have experienced over the course of childhood. For these kind of clients, they usually experience significant improvements after 12-20 sessions. Having said that, every person is different and hence treatment time can vary. Some clients I have worked with completely resolved their issues after just 3-6 sessions, whereas others may take longer. In some cases, EMDR therapy will need to be combined with other therapeutic approaches in order for it to be effective. The great thing about EMDR therapy is that it is a once-and-for-all transformative treatment, so once you’ve been through it, you are very unlikely to have to seek help for the same issues again in future.