May 2, 2023

EMDR Therapy for Complex Trauma in San Francisco: What You Need to Know

The whole body triggers a stress response when anything endangers a person's life or sense of safety. A single occurrence, like an accident, illness, or violent act, could pose a threat. The grief could be ongoing and covert, such as years of experiencing rejection, bullying, or disregard at home or school. It could result from an experience of sex, emotional, or physical abuse. The reasoning brain shuts down during a stress response. The fight-or-flight region in the amygdala and the brain stem take control. When they perceive danger, they react automatically with a surge of brain chemicals like adrenaline and tightened muscles.

Reasoning doesn't work effectively with this kind of stress because the nervous system keeps responding in ways that don't include the thinking brain. Linking the cognitive sections with the trauma-altered survival system so that one region of the brain may start to calm the others takes a specific sort of treatment, or "bottom-up treatment," as therapists refer.

EMDR is used in this situation.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is a powerful tool for healing complex trauma. It has been used successfully to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, depression, and other psychological conditions in people of all ages. EMDR therapy is available throughout the United States and particularly in San Francisco. This article will provide an overview of EMDR Therapy in San Francisco: what it is, how it works, who can benefit from EMDR Therapy, where to find EMDR therapists in San Francisco, and more. With this information, you'll have the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about EMDR Therapy as part of your treatment plan.

What is EMDR therapy, and what are its benefits for treating complex trauma?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses bilateral stimulation (like eye movements, taps, or tones) to help reprogram the brain to reduce the intensity of traumatic memories. EMDR therapy effectively treats complex trauma, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, traumatic memory, depression, phobias, grief reactions, and other psychological conditions. EMDR helps patients reprocess past experiences and integrate them into their present lives with improved coping skills and healthier emotional states.

EMDR Therapy also offers an alternative to traditional "talk therapy," which can take months or even years to make meaningful progress. EMDR Therapy can reduce symptoms quickly and be used in combination with other treatments. EMDR Therapy is available throughout the United States, including in San Francisco. EMDR Therapists like Dr. Cammy in San Francisco have extensive experience helping patients heal from trauma, and many offer EMDR therapy as part of their treatment programs. EMDR Therapy is an effective treatment for healing complex trauma and improving overall mental health. If you are looking for EMDR Therapy in San Francisco, you will want to ensure that your therapist is certified by EMDR International Association (EMDRIA). A certified EMDR therapist has the necessary training and qualifications to provide EMDR Therapy sessions.

The EMDR Confusion: Is it a Quick Fix?

Many individuals think EMDR can heal trauma in only a few brief sessions. Is this a fact? Well, occasionally. But everything hinges on the patient, their circumstance, and their past.

One of the misconceptions about EMDR is that it is only a method for handling trauma. It's a whole therapy model with eight stages of care.

These stages include:

  • Planning for treatment and the client's history
  • Preparedness
  • Analysis of the situation
  • Neural stimulation
  • Implementation
  • Scan of the Body
  • Reconciliations
  • Reassessment

The first two stages correlate to the first phase in Judith Herman's three-stage trauma structure helps. She starts by focusing on security and stability. These initial steps may need to be completed over a long period before processing can safely perform and morally for some clients. EMDR may consequently work more swiftly for some persons than for others.

The EMDR Protocol

EMDR is more than just a method for dealing with trauma. A trauma-informed therapist can combine EMDR with other therapies like Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Internal Family Systems (IFS) because it is a comprehensive therapeutic methodology. Results from EMDR can occasionally be very striking and aid clients in making rapid improvements.

However, EMDR cannot be used just as a trauma processing technique by therapists. You must remember that phase 1 of EMDR, known as history taking, and phase 2, known as preparation and relationship building, must come first. And these, in turn, have to happen to achieve stability. 

A thorough therapy method must include safety and stability measures. If the client requires it, you can work with alternative treatment models, especially if they have a history of complicated trauma.

How does EMDR therapy work, and how long does it usually take to see results?

Successful EMDR therapy engages the brain's left and right hemispheres to reprocess traumatic memories. Through a series of eye movements, tapping, tones, or other forms of tactile stimulation, EMDR helps the brain to process these memories to reduce their intensity and allow for more effective coping strategies.

The time it takes to see results from EMDR therapy can vary drastically depending on the individual and their experiences with trauma therapy. Generally speaking, people often find relief after a couple of sessions; however, it may take longer for those with more complex traumas. Ultimately, it depends on how much processing needs to be done and how quickly each person responds to treatment. Additionally, some individuals might find it helpful to have regular “tune-up” sessions, similar to follow-ups with a doctor.

In any case, EMDR therapy is an effective and efficient way to deal with traumatic experiences. With the help of a trained professional, anyone can benefit from this powerful form of therapy. A study conducted by the Healthcare Kaiser Permanente discovered that after just six 50-minute sessions, 100% of people who had experienced a single trauma and 77% of multiple trauma victims were no longer classified as having PTSD.

EMDR Therapy for Complex PTSD

Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a severe and chronic mental health condition that can be debilitating for those who experience it. It arises from prolonged or repeated exposure to traumatic events, such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or war. C-PTSD presents differently than PTSD due to its duration and severity; symptoms include problems with self-worth, trust issues, difficulty regulating emotions and behavior, extreme anxiety and depression, and feelings of detachment from oneself and the world around them.

EMDR Therapy is an effective treatment for C-PTSD because of its ability to process difficult experiences more rapidly compared to traditional psychotherapy approaches. EMDR helps to reprocess the trauma and can effectively reduce symptoms of C-PTSD. Through a series of eye movements, tapping, or tones, EMDR helps the brain to work through traumatic memories to reduce their intensity and allow for more functional coping strategies. Research has found that 80% of C-PTSD clients experience improvement after three months of EMDR treatment.

C-PTSD patients must obtain assistance from a skilled therapist familiar with this disorder and its implications. When working with a client with C-PTSD, an EMDR therapist will take a thorough trauma-informed approach, putting safety and stability first before starting any processing. Additionally, there is no urgency when processing painful memories, and the therapist should always be understanding and encouraging. This type of therapy aims to help those suffering find relief and healing in a safe and compassionate environment. With the proper treatment, individuals with C-PTSD can learn how to cope with their lives healthier and find peace within themselves.  

Are there any risks associated with EMDR therapy, and how can you minimize them?

EMDR therapy is considered a safe and effective treatment when practiced correctly; however, there are potential risks associated with the procedure if it is not conducted appropriately. For example, using EMDR without proper preparation or exploration before processing can lead to high levels of emotional distress or increased emotional intensity. It is crucial that clients are adequately prepared before engaging in any EMDR session and that their safety is continuously monitored during processing. Some clients may become overwhelmed by specific memories, thoughts, or feelings during the process and could experience significant distress.

To minimize risk factors associated with EMDR therapy, therapists should be trained to understand how to monitor for signs of distress and provide steady support throughout the process. Additionally, therapists should always help the client to develop coping strategies that can be used before, during, and after processing sessions. A qualified therapist should conduct a proper risk assessment before engaging in EMDR therapy to assess the safety of the client and determine whether or not they can engage in this form of treatment. By adhering to these guidelines, individuals undergoing EMDR therapy can benefit from a safe environment for healing and growth.  Overall, when appropriately practiced, EMDR is an effective way for people with psychological trauma to heal and move forward with their lives.

With diligent research and thoughtful preparation, potential risks associated with EMDR therapy can be minimized while maximizing its potential benefits. By understanding this treatment and the risks involved, individuals can obtain a more informed perspective on how EMDR therapy can help them reach their therapeutic goals. In conclusion, EMDR is a highly effective psychotherapy for those living with C-PTSD or other trauma-related issues. When used strategically, it can be an invaluable tool for healing.

How much does EMDR therapy cost in San Francisco, and is it covered by insurance?

The cost of EMDR therapy in San Francisco varies depending on the therapist and their experience level. Many therapists charge a flat rate per session, while some may offer sliding scale fees or package deals. Generally, individual sessions can range between $100-$200, and group sessions range from $80-$120. It is important to remember that many insurance providers cover part or all costs associated with mental health treatment, including EMDR therapy. To find out if your insurance plan covers this type of treatment, it is best to contact your provider for more information. Additionally, many counties offer low-cost counseling options for those unable to access private care services due to financial constraints. Consulting a local therapist referral service for further information is also recommended.

Overall, EMDR therapy can be a highly effective treatment for those living with C-PTSD and other psychological trauma, but the cost can vary depending on individual circumstances. Looking into your insurance coverage and local options is essential to find an affordable solution that meets your needs. By doing so, you can take advantage of this powerful tool to heal and move forward with your life.    ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​


The bottom line is that EMDR therapy is a valuable therapeutic modality for individuals struggling with psychological trauma. Still, it is crucial to understand the associated costs and whether they may be covered by insurance. With careful research and planning, you can find an affordable EMDR therapy option that meets your needs. With the proper support and guidance, EMDR therapy can help you to heal from trauma-related issues and create a more fulfilling life in the long run.

It's crucial to have a helpful therapist and other tools on hand to handle emotions during EMDR treatment. As a result, some patients may have strong feelings or physical reactions. San Francisco EMDR therapists like Dr. Cammy can assist people needing care. It would be best if you took the time to choose an EMDR practitioner who you are comfortable with and knowledgeable about your specific situation.

You could learn more about the benefits of reprocessing eye movement desensitization. We'll respond to your questions! Call 800-908-7890 to set up a consultation with Dr. Cammy or 800-908-7890 to begin counseling.