EMDR therapy and psychiatric medication


Many clients who present for EMDR are medicated with psychiatric drugs. The question arises whether these medications are helpful in the context of EMDR therapy or not. We as psychotherapists, by definition, are involved in a dialogue about mental health with our clients; therefore, on the important subject of psychoactive medication we have a responsibility to be informed ourselves and to share this information with our clients. This presentation is intended to provide tools especially for the non-medical therapist to learn how to navigate the territory of psychiatric drugs-use in a way that helps clients. Included in the presentation will be a discussion of individual case studies of traumatized clients, who had first been treated with psychiatric medication and then sought EMDR therapy; an examination of how psychiatric drugs help or hinder and how they compare to the EMDR therapy approach; and evidence from the current literature which calls into question the assumption of mental disorders being due to a chemical imbalance requiring life-long medication. The robustness of the EMDR protocol and how helpful it has proven to be to clients who have dealt with being heavily medicated and suffering from attendant side effects will be illustrated. Learning objectives: • Critique the evidence-based literature on psychiatric medication and the now insupportable information, given to clients and doctors, which excludes the findings of long-term harm caused by all classes of psychiatric medication. Participants will be able to assess the importance of the few reliable long-term outcome studies and compare the effectiveness of psychotherapy/EMDR with psychiatric drugs. • Evaluate a series of cases studies of clients, previously traumatized, who were medicated with psychoactive drugs when first seeking EMDR Therapy. • Gain knowledge of the different available protocols designed to help clients to be safely weaned off psychiatric medication. • In the process of discussion, participants will compare their own and other participants’ experiences with such medicated clients.






Robert Ferrie

Original Work Citation

Ferrie, R. (2013, May). EMDR therapy and psychiatric medication. Presentation at the EMDR Canada Annual Conference, Banff, AB




“EMDR therapy and psychiatric medication,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 27, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/21946.

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