EMDR- Is it Really All That?

A three part series about EMDR as an adjunct treatment. Co-authored by Rajani Levis & Veronika Gold in the SFCAMFT newsletter.

EMDR Therapy: Is it Really All That? ~ Part I

You’ve heard the buzz about EMDR therapy and now your clients are asking about it. How do you make a decision about EMDR as an adjunctive treatment?

We answer this and other pressing questions about EMDR treatment in this three part series.

Part 1: Why choose EMDR therapy?

Part 2: How does EMDR therapy work?

Part 3: How does Adjunctive EMDR therapy work?
How do we know that EMDR works?
Here are just a few sources of information to document the efficacy of EMDR therapy.
• Media: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) (http://www.emdr.com)therapy has earned a strong reputation in the media as a breakthrough therapy because of its simplicity as well as the quick and lasting relief reported by clients. While that is a pretty good recommendation, EMDR has become a media darling because it is one of the most researched and validated treatments for PTSD.
WHO : On August 6th 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva released new clinical guidelines for treating the mental health consequences of trauma and loss. Guidelines stated that trauma-focused CBT and EMDR are the only psychotherapies recommended for children, adolescents and adults with PTSD.
SAMHSA : In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) cites EMDR as evidence-based practice for treatment of PTSD, anxiety and depression symptoms.
• APA: EMDR was given the same status as CBT, as an effective treatment for ameliorating symptoms of both acute and chronic PTSD.

What is EMDR and what is useful for?
EMDR therapy is a highly effective treatment that enables an accelerated form of information processing. Along with an eight-phase approach, there are numerous procedural elements that contribute to the success of this method. With its rise to popular status, numerous practitioners have created specific protocols that expand the applicability of the standard protocol to diverse and discrete situations. What started out as a treatment for the symptoms of PTSD, now encompasses a wide range of clinical applications, including the treatment of addiction, migraine headaches, depression, anxiety and phobias.
When should I make a referral for EMDR therapy?
If your clients are struggling with symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and you do not specialize in another type of trauma treatment, we strongly encourage you to refer the client for EMDR Therapy. Besides the treatment of trauma related disorders and loss, EMDR therapy has been shown to be highly effective in helping clients to overcome anxiety and enhance performance. Unlike many other forms of therapy, EMDR can be done with a separate therapist to work through a specific incident as an adjunct to psychotherapy you are already providing.
Glimpses from our Client Files
Male client having panic attacks several times a week and flashbacks of mother’s death from two years ago. Veronika used Standard Protocol and after four sessions client has not had a panic attack for one month and reports very low levels of anxiety.

Female client in mid-fifties with chronic history of bridge phobia. After 8 sessions of EMDR therapy with Rajani, client reported driving across the Bay Bridge, San Mateo Bridge and the Dumbarton Bridge. Gains were maintained at 6 month follow-up.

Rajani Venkatraman Levis, MFT, PPS, CTS is an EMDRIA Approved Consultant in EMDR & a Certified Trauma Specialist who brings a richly multicultural focus to her work with developmental and historical trauma. She is the regional coordinator for the San Francisco-South Bay EMDR Regional Network [www.sfemdr.com]. Rajani teaches at San Francisco State University and sees clients in private practice in Noe Valley. www.levistherapy.com

Veronika Gold, MA, MFT, is an EMDRIA Approved Consultant and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. She is a Certified Realization Process teacher and has an advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy.Veronika specializes in the treatment of trauma, anxiety, and relationship issues. Her private practice offices are in San Francisco and Menlo Park. www.veronikagold.com