How many EMDR sessions will I need?

How many EMDR sessions will I need?

EMDR is an individual therapy typically delivered one to two times per week for an average of 6-12 sessions, although some people benefit from fewer, and some from more sessions.

In general, ‘the more isolated the traumatic memory being treated, the shorter the treatment tends to be. People with multiple traumas and/or complex histories of childhood abuse or neglect may require more extensive therapy, including substantial preparatory work in phase two of EMDR. 

Studies relating to the number of sessions required have shown:

  • 84-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have PTSD after only 3 sessions (lasting 90 minutes each)
  • 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only 6 sessions (lasting 50 minutes each)
  • 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions

 

Please remember, these are not medical recommendations. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best methods for you. EMDR should always be delivered by properly trained therapists. 

How effective is EMDR?


Research has shown that EMDR can be very effective, very quickly in treating PTSD and C-PTSD. Read about some of the research that has been done in this area here .

What happens in an EMDR session?


Find out more about the different phases of EMDR treatment and how the sessions will differ as you progress.

Things to know before starting EMDR therapy


It’s important for people to go into EMDR therapy with an full understanding of what the treatment requires and entails. 

  • EMDR Institute

  • EMDR Association

  • Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). (2017, June 29). PTSD in children quickly and effectively treatable within hours. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 23, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170629085311.htm

  • Carletto Sara, Borghi Martina, Bertino Gabriella, Oliva Francesco, Cavallo Marco, Hofmann Arne, Zennaro Alessandro, Malucchi Simona, Ostacoli LucaTreating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing the Efficacy of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and Relaxation Therapy Frontiers in Psychology VOL. 7 2016 Page 526 https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00526 DOI10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00526

  • Chen L, Zhang G, Hu M, Liang X. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing versus cognitive-behavioral therapy for adult posttraumatic stress disorder: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2015 Jun;203(6):443-51. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000306. PMID: 25974059.

  • Chen Y-R, Hung K-W, Tsai J-C, Chu H, Chung M-H, Chen S-R, et al. (2014) Efficacy of Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for Patients with Posttraumatic-Stress Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. PLoS ONE 9(8): e103676. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0103676

  • Bisson, J., Roberts, N.P., Andrew, M., Cooper, R. & Lewis, C. (2013).  Psychological therapies for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003388.pub4

  • Bradley, R., Greene, J., Russ, E., Dutra, L., & Westen, D. (2005).A multidimensional meta-analysis of psychotherapy for PTSD.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 162, 214-227.

  • Lee, C.W., & Cuijpers, P. (2013).  A meta-analysis of the contribution of eye movements in processing emotional memories. Journal of Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry, 44, 231-23

  • Seidler, G.H., & Wagner, F.E. (2006). Comparing the efficacy of EMDR and trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of PTSD: a meta-analytic study. Psychological Medicine, 36,1515-1522.

  • Acarturk, C., Konuk, E., Cetinkaya, M., Senay, I., Sijbrandij, M., Gulen, B., & Cuijpers, P. (2016). The efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression among Syrian refugees: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Psychological medicine46(12), 2583-2593

  • Raymond W. Gunter, Glen E. Bodner, How eye movements affect unpleasant memories: Support for a working-memory account, Behaviour Research and Therapy, Volume 46, Issue 8, 2008, Pages 913-931, ISSN 0005-7967,https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2008.04.006.

  • Comparison of two treatments for traumatic stress: A community-based study of EMDR and prolonged exposure, Ironson, B. Freund, J. L. Strauss, J. Williams

  • Scheck MM, Schaeffer JA, Gillette C. Brief psychological intervention with traumatized young women: the efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. J Trauma Stress. 1998 Jan;11(1):25-44. doi: 10.1023/A:1024400931106. PMID: 9479674.

  • PTSD in children quickly and effectively treatable within hours

  • EMDR Therapy for Anxiety, Panic, PTSD and Trauma

  • Adapting EMDR for Treating Complex PTSD Symptoms

  • Using EMDR to Find Your ‘Safe Place’ in Trauma Recovery

  • SAFE PLACE RESOURCE & ADAPTATIONS

  • EMDR Therapy: Breaking Down the Barriers

  • EMDR International Association

  • American Psychological Association

  • Here's What You Need To Know Before Your First EMDR Therapy Session

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Treatments for PTSD

It is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, which means it is never too late to seek help. For some, the first step may be watchful waiting, then exploring therapeutic options such as individual or group therapy – but the main treatment options in the UK are psychological treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but confronting and understanding your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD. You can find out more in the links below, or here.