NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Psychotherapy Blog: What is Adjunctive EMDR Therapy?

I've written prior articles about EMDR, including:
What is EMDR?
EMDR Therapy When Talk Therapy Isn't Enough
How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

In this article, I'm focusing on EMDR as an adjunctive therapy.

What is Adjunctive EMDR Therapy?

What is Adjunctive Therapy?
Many clients are seeing psychotherapists who might not do certain types of therapy, like EMDR, Somatic Experiencing or clinical hypnosis.

They will often have a very good therapeutic relationship with their therapist and not want to leave her or him to see a therapist who does another form of therapy.

Usually, they are happy to discover that there is a way for them to remain with their psychotherapist and to see another therapist adjunctively.

This means that their original therapist remains their primary therapist and the adjunctive therapist is the secondary therapist.

As long as the primary therapist is in agreement with this arrangement and, with the client's consent, both therapists can communicate with each other, adjunctive therapy usually works very well.

The adjunctive therapist usually works on a particular issue where she has particular expertise and skill, like psychological trauma, and the primary therapist remains the therapist who continues to see the client as before.

Aside from clients seeking out adjunctive therapy, primary therapists often refer their clients to adjunctive therapists, like EMDR therapists, because they know their clients can benefit from this other form of therapy.

How Does EMDR Work as an Adjunctive Therapy?
In my prior articles, I've written about how EMDR works when it is the primary therapy.

With EMDR as an adjunctive therapy, the client chooses a particular issue that s/he wants to work on with the EMDR therapist, usually involving trauma.

The psychological work can be about developmental trauma, which is psychological trauma that stems from unresolved childhood issues.  It can also be shock trauma (see my article:  ).

It is important that both therapists, the primary therapist and the adjunctive therapist, agree on the treatment plan so they aren't working at cross purposes to each other.

Another important element is that the adjunctive therapist must honor the relationship that the client has with the primary therapist, and it is understood in advance that the adjunctive therapist will not try to see the client exclusively without the primary therapist seeing the client.

The primary therapist must also be respectful of the adjunctive work and if s/he has any hesitation about it, s/he needs to express this to the client beforehand.

The following fictionalized scenario is an example of how adjunctive EMDR therapist can work:

Ted had been seeing his therapist for regular talk therapy for several years.  Although both he and his therapist felt that he had made some progress with unresolved family of origin issues, they both felt that their work had not helped Ted to resolve certain traumatic events in his childhood history, including a history of emotional abuse with his father.

Ted's therapist knew several colleagues who did the type of trauma work that she didn't do, including colleagues who did EMDR.

Since she wasn't trained in EMDR and she knew that EMDR is usually effective for the type of trauma that remained unresolved for Ted, she recommended that Ted have a consultation with one of her colleagues.

During the consultation, Ted signed a consent form so the EMDR therapist could speak with his primary therapist.

What is Adjunctive EMDR Therapy?

Ted was glad that he could do the trauma work with the adjunctive therapist without having to give up his primary therapist.

As the work progressed in EMDR, Ted felt that he was working through his childhood trauma in ways that he was unable to do with regular talk therapy.

During his sessions with his primary therapist, he talked about the things that came up for him during EMDR therapy.  He also talked about other areas in his life that were not part of his traumatic history.

During his sessions with his EMDR therapist, he and the therapist remained focused on the particular traumatic issues.  She remained available to him if things came up between sessions related to the work that they were doing.  However, he was also grateful to be able to speak with his primary therapist because they had a longstanding relationship with a very good rapport.

What is Adjunctive EMDR Therapy?

After Ted successfully completed EMDR, he remained with his primary therapist.  After several months, they talked about the possibility of ending their sessions since Ted was doing so well.

Clients that have an established relationship with their therapist don't need to choose between leaving their therapist to see an adjunctive therapist.

EMDR therapy, as well as other types of trauma therapy, can be done as a primary therapy or an adjunctive therapy.

Although it would involve an additional expense, clients often find that many different types of adjunctive trauma therapy works faster than regular talk therapy so, in the long run, it can help to shorten therapy and reduce expenses.

Getting Help Therapy
If you are interested in exploring EMDR as an adjunctive therapy, it's best to speak with your therapist (if she or he doesn't do EMDR therapy) to explore this option.

If you're both in agreement about the possibility of exploring EMDR therapy as an adjunctive therapy, the next step would be to find an EMDR therapist in your area and to set up a consultation.

As you would with any psychotherapy consultation, it's important to choose a therapist that you feel comfortable with (see my article:  How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

I work with EMDR as a primary therapist as well as an adjunctive therapist.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.