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  • Christie Pearl, LMHC, LPC

Behind the scenes of an EMDR Intensive

EMDR Intensives are becoming more in demand among trauma therapists and clients alike as a valuable alternative to traditional weekly therapy. Setting aside a focused period of time for a mental health retreat where your mind/body can step outside normal day to day activities and resolve old emotional patterns can propel you forward in your personal life and career.

EMDR Intensives require more from both the therapist and you than weekly therapy does. If you've ever wondered how a therapist prepares for an EMDR Intensive, I'm going to share my process with you!

Truth be told, many therapists are so busy seeing clients back to back that they don't have time to do a lot of preparation for each client.

Just like clients in weekly therapy can get caught in a cycle of the "crisis of the week," therapists can get caught in that same cycle. When both the therapist and client are showing up flying by the seat of their pants, the therapy process can get stuck in a pattern of treading emotional water, resulting in a lack of meaningful change. I get it - and I've been there.

But isn't that why you come to therapy? You want something to change. And I want that for you!

Now that I have been conducting EMDR Intensives in my practice for almost 2 years, I have the opportunity to prepare for work with you in an entirely new way. Today I'm pulling back the curtain and letting you in on a few behind the scenes secrets to preparing for a great EMDR Intensive.

1. I think about you - a lot!

My EMDR Intensives typically include you completing a pre-intensive workbook that gives me rich information about how you see yourself and the world. I read through your workbook and create a summary for myself so that I can take in the themes and overall sense of where you are in your healing process. I take my time and sit with how it feels to step into your experience, and I notice what comes to me in terms of understanding one important question - what is it that you most want, and what is the next step that I can help you take to move in that direction? This process is one of the most important ways I prepare for your intensive, and the reason why I ask you to send your workbook to me in advance!

2. I avoid scheduling 2 intensive weeks in a row.

EMDR Intensives require a different kind of energy than weekly therapy does. Unlike weekly therapy, which requires stamina for attending to the needs of a lot of different people, EMDR Intensives require stamina for going deeper with one person. For me, the latter is much more gratifying. It also means that I am not available to do the preparation work for you (see above) if I am in the middle of an intensive with someone else. I find that energetically I need space in between intensive clients to allow myself to reset.

3. I go to bed early the night before.

This might seem obvious, but at my age I can't overestimate the value of a good night's sleep LOL. Menopause is no joke! Seriously though, on days when I have an intensive scheduled, I do all the same things I ask you to do. In other words, I've cleared my schedule for our work together, I avoid alcohol the night before, and I show up rested and ready to go. This helps me be as mentally clear and focused as possible.

4. I ask my higher power for help.

One of the things I have learned after almost 20 years in the mental health field is that I don't have all the answers. I have done enough personal work to know that I can't help everyone, nor is it my job to do so. What I can do is give you my best - whatever my best looks like on any given day. Sometimes my best is pretty great, and sometimes it's just ok. Part of me - probably my perfectionist part - wishes that wasn't true, but it is. There are moments when I'm getting ready to meet with you when I recognize my humanness, my limitations, and I ask my higher power to give me the right words for you, the right interventions for you, to help me to help you.

If you are interested in experiencing an EMDR Intensive for yourself, I invite you to schedule a connection call with me!


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