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EMDR Therapy

Specialized Expertise

Certified Providers

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR therapy

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitzation Reprocessing. EMDR uses eye movements to desensitize and reprocess undesirable memories. You do not forget the event, it simply doesn’t hold as much charge for you. Your brain naturally wants to heal, EMDR Therapy works to support relief from unwanted images, smells, sounds and physical reactions. 

EMDR is not just a technique or tool in counseling.

EMDR is an internationally recognized evidence-based treatment and therapy used for a wide variety of issues and conditions


In recent research, EMDR Therapy has been proven to work with Dual Attention (eye movements not necessary) as the objective is to keep part of your attention present (knowing all is well and safe) while another part works through the unsafe or troubling memories.

Your therapist won't need many details about what happened as their role is simply to nudge the mind in a direction that will help it resolve what happened. The sessions don’t require a lot of “talking” about the incident.

“EMDR Therapy is proven to work as effectively online as it is in person”

EMDR Therapy is careful NOT to retraumatize you - when you re-tell or write out your experience you engage in different parts of the brain which can trick the brain into thinking that the trauma is still occurring thereby retraumatizing you. Other therapies can also suppress memories further by not asking for the consent of the mind when working with blocked memories. 

EMDR Therapy can be used for the treatment and prevention of PTSD, chronic pain, and vicarious trauma (hearing uncomfortable stories i.e. from a spouse). Clients who engage in regular monthly sessions report that recalibrating the events of their recent shifts has allowed them to “still be themselves”.

When recovering from being exposed to disturbing events the "front" of the brain assumes different roles including thinking “all is ok” while the "back of the brain" is still trying to process what it was exposed to. This can lead to your brain "spinning its wheels" in the background

Symptoms can include: 

  • Thinking about events involuntarily

  • Thoughts of an incident popping into your mind

  • Nightmares or difficulty sleeping

  • Grief that won't go away

  • A smell or sound that keeps coming back or bugs you more than it should

  • Feeling tense or irritable

  • Chronic Pain

EMDR Therapy does not involve tapping meridians on your face or chest.

When looking for an EMDR Therapist connect with someone who maintains membership with - these therapists are committed to ongoing training and are following proper protocols. It’s also wise to ensure your clinician is engaged in regular supervision.  


What happens in an EMDR session?

There are 8 phases in EMDR Therapy. You move through each phase at your own pace which is why it’s hard to pin down “how many sessions are needed for EMDR Therapy” but is also why EMDR Therapy is effective - it moves with you rather than pushing or pulling you along.  


Phase 1 of EMDR Therapy is to obtain your history and to co-create a treatment plan. It may feel like regular talk therapy sessions, the initial goal is to build a comfortable, trusting rapport between you and the therapist. Four-fifths of your counselling success is on the trust and camaraderie between you and your therapist.


The therapist will be looking to learn more about you in a conversational way. Your strengths, areas of weakness, family and social dynamics, current behaviors, and coping strategies. Most clinicians will use clinical scaling instruments to measure distress and current symptomology. 


You do not have to prepare for these sessions - your clinician has questions to ask and will help you to feel comfortable and at ease. Counseling can induce fatigue so it’s a great idea to plan for a walk or downtime after your session. 

Some people find it helpful to make some notes before or after their sessions. 


Phase 2 of EMDR Therapy is called preparation. During this phase, the therapist will work with you to enhance current coping skills, develop new coping strategies, and will likely begin to install “resources” such as “calm place” to teach you how to change emotional states when you so wish to.


These containment, calming, and self-soothing strategies are supportive when moving into the next phases. They will help you regulate your emotions when encountering difficult memories. Most clinicians will use Dual Attention Stimulus to help you get used to having one part of you distracted while another part is working through something else in a different “time bank”. 


Phase 3 of EMDR Therapy is the reprocessing assessment phase. In this phase, the therapist will assess logistical, emotional, mental, and social readiness for phase 4. Any areas lacking will be supported and developed including clearly identifying which targets will be treated through reprocessing The clinician will identify the recurring negative self-talk and sensations related to the events you are wanting to reprocess.


Phase 4 of EMDR Therapy is the reprocessing phase and is usually what clients think of when they think of EMDR. In this phase you have introduced to the Dual Attention Stimulus again, however you’ll notice the stimulation is a little faster and feels more like a blur. In this stage, the clinician will work with you to resolve the charge around a memory, belief, or trigger. Clearing this all out helps the brain to be prepared and ready to receive the information in phase 5 of EMDR Therapy. Many clients find this phase ends with positive and helpful memories.


Phase 5 of EMDR Therapy moves smoothly from phase 4 and you may not even realize we’ve moved into the phase of installation. This is the phase where the discomfort has passed and now your neural network is ready to receive new and healthy information. Once the clinician knows your mind has resolved the maladaptive information they will support you in installing the positive information one part of you knows but the other part of you doesn’t (for example, the part of you that knows your safe now provides that information to the part of you that may not be as convinced because it’s caught in “trauma time”) The clinician works with your mind to help strengthen the positive and normalized belief you know, but need to know “fully”.


Phase 6 of EMDR Therapy is the body scan and in this stage, the clinician works to clear out any somatic or body sensations that may have arisen from the undesirable incident. 


Phase 7 of EMDR Therapy In this phase, the clinician will focus with you on debriefing and closure. You’ll usually review coping, self-regulation skills, and how to provide care for your thoughts, feelings, and body moving forward.


Phase 8 of EMDR Therapy the re-evaluation phase is critical as it provides proof that gains were made and sustained. In this phase, the clinician may ask you to fill out the scales again to assess where progress has been made or where more treatment may be needed. Time in this phase may also be spent deciding which targets will be next.


Some clients like time between their sessions and some like to book an “intensive” which would be a much longer appointment time (i.e. 4-6 hours) in which numerous targets can be reprocessed in the same session.


Each phase is moved through at the client’s pace and the clinician provides structure and support.


EMDR should not be rushed so as to respect the history, experience and brain’s natural movement towards healing. This approach ensures that the gains made in sessions are sustained long term.

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