Ep 7 How to Structure Your EMDR Intensive Sessions

I’m Carolyn Solo, an LCSW EMDR consultant, business coach, and mom of three kids under seven. I’m also the host of the Future Template Parent podcast.

Today, I want to share my journey of discovering the power of intensive EMDR therapy and how it has transformed my practice and allowed me to spend more quality time with my family.

As a busy mom and therapist, I constantly sought ways to improve my schedule, income, and clinical outcomes.

That’s when I stumbled upon the concept of intensive therapy.

Intrigued by its potential benefits, I decided to dive in and learn everything I could about offering intensive EMDR sessions.

My approach to structuring intensives starts with a free consult call, where I determine the client’s referral source and the reasons behind their interest in intensive therapy.

I made the decision not to take on new weekly EMDR clients and instead refer out those who are not interested in intensives.

If the client falls outside my niche, I connect them with another therapist specializing in intensive therapy.

While I am comfortable working with complex trauma cases, I have found that major developmental trauma with attachment wounds is not ideal for short-term relationships unless the client already has a primary therapist.

It’s important to be upfront about the cost and insurance reimbursement process with clients, and I never hesitate to discuss the benefits of intensive therapy with them.

By understanding the structure of my intensives and carefully planning my schedule, I have created a future template for my life as both a parent and a therapist.

One aspect I implement is a sliding scale approach to intensive therapy. This structured approach allows for flexibility and adaptability in the treatment process. I currently have a couple of sliding scale spots in my practice, which will remain full for a long time.

Regarding scheduling, I block out three four-hour sessions over two weeks.

The days are consecutive but not necessarily back-to-back, which works well for both the client’s energy levels and the integration process.

On the first day, we spend about an hour resourcing and reviewing the workbook, solidifying treatment goals, and discussing the RTEP, the Recent Traumatic Event protocol. After the first hour, we take a one-hour break before diving into the first target. At the beginning of the third day, we check in to see how the client feels and decide whether they want to continue working on a target.

At the end of each day, I leave 15 minutes to reflect and review the entire session. I also like to give clients something tangible to commemorate the end of their intensive experience, such as a plant or a rock.

I encourage other therapists to think proactively about what they want and how they might transition their weekly clients to their ideal schedule.

It’s important to choose what works best for you and your business. Clustering a handful of weekly clients on two days of the week and leaving two days open for intensive clients has worked well. I try to take a whole day off every week, although it doesn’t always happen.

This structure allows me to book two intensives a month, with the option to book an intensive day followed by a two-hour lunch break and another two-hour intensive.

In addition to my regular clients, I keep a few high-need clients, some with dissociative identity disorder, and a couple of high-risk clients working with me weekly, because I need to provide good continuity of care and I’m committed to those relationships.

Maintaining a flexible schedule is crucial to accommodate my family’s needs, especially considering my spouse’s demanding job.

In conclusion, flexibility and adaptability are key to providing effective therapy through intensive sessions.

By implementing a sliding scale approach and tailoring the treatment to each client’s unique needs, we can offer a more personalized and impactful therapeutic experience.

As therapists, it’s important to find a balance between our professional and personal lives, and intensive therapy has allowed me to do just that.