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Eye-Movement Desensitization and
Reprocessing

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a therapy technique rooted in neuroscience and shown to be effective in treating trauma and distressing memories.

If you've experienced emotionally distressing event(s), you may find yourself struggling with anxiety, panic, and other related symptoms that make it difficult to function in your day-to-day life. Sometimes these symptoms happen immediately, and sometimes they come up much later in life. EMDR therapy is a highly effective treatment approach designed to alleviate the distress caused by traumatic experiences, anxiety, and other emotional difficulties.

Trees following a path representing choosing the path to wellness and improving ones mental health.

What is Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing?

Symptoms Treated by EMDR Therapy

  • Anxiety or Hypervigilance

  • Panic Attacks

  • Avoidance of Life Activities

  • Past Sexual or Physical Abuse

  • Disturbing Memories

  • Phobias

  • Eating Disorders

  • Emotional Dysregulation

  • Decreased Quality of Life and Emotional Wellbeing

  • Performance Anxiety

  • Complex Grief

  • Insomnia or Nightmares 

  • Chronic Pain

  • Prolonged Stress

  • Trauma Flashbacks

  • Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

What can I expect?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) consists of a structured eight-phase therapeutic approach that aims to help individuals process traumatic memories and alleviate the distressing symptoms associated with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each phase of EMDR serves a specific purpose within the overall therapeutic process. Here’s an overview of the eight phases of EMDR:

Phase
1

History Taking

In this phase, we will work together to gather information about your history, trauma, symptoms, and current emotional state. This process helps to tailor the EMDR treatment plan to your needs and circumstances.

Phase
2

Preparation
 
During the second phase of EMDR therapy, we will develop skills for managing distressing emotions. We will work together to identify existing stress reduction strategies and introduce new strategies. In EMDR we will need to explore traumatic experiences, making stress management systems very important. 

Phases
3-6

Desensitization and Reprocessing
 
In phases 3-6 of EMDR therapy, you'll explore the emotions, beliefs, and physical sensations associated with these memories. Through guided bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or taps, you'll process these memories, allowing them to become less distressing and integrated into your life story. Your therapist will help you develop coping mechanisms and positive beliefs to replace negative ones, fostering resilience and emotional healing. As you progress through these phases, you'll gradually experience reduced distress and increased feelings of empowerment and self-understanding.

Phases
7-8

Closure and Re-evaluation 
 
At the end of each session, your therapist ensures that the you are emotionally regulated and provides a review of coping strategies to manage any distress that may arise between sessions. In subsequent sessions, we will assess the progress made and review the effects of previous sessions. If necessary, additional target memories are identified for processing.
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Sometimes you don't know the weight of something you've been carrying until you feel the weight of its release 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is bilateral stimulation?

Bilateral stimulation is a technique used to help individuals process traumatic memories or distressing thoughts. It involves stimulating both sides of the brain alternately, often through rhythmic eye movements, which can be side-to-side, like watching a finger move from left to right. The theory behind bilateral stimulation in EMDR is that it helps facilitate the processing of traumatic memories by activating both hemispheres of the brain. This stimulation aids in the reorganization and integration of traumatic memories, allowing them to be processed in a more adaptive and less distressing manner.

How long does EMDR take?

The duration of EMDR therapy varies depending on individual needs and the complexity of the issues being addressed. Some individuals may experience significant relief after just a few sessions, while others may require more extensive treatment over several months. EMDR sessions are sometimes slightly longer than typical therapy sessions (up to 90 minutes). This provides us with the time necessary to execute the steps of EMDR with time to process impacts. If you are limited to a specific number of sessions we can discuss this during the consultation phase.

How do I know if EMDR therapy is for me?

EMDR therapy is generally safe and well-tolerated, but it may not be appropriate for everyone. This is why we conduct a thorough assessment in the first phase of EMDR therapy to determine if EMDR is suitable for your needs. If it is decided that EMDR is not a fit for your symptoms, we will discuss alternative treatment options.

What are the risks of EMDR therapy?

As with any other type of psychotherapy, EMDR asks you to think about distressing traumatic memories. For this reason you may experience a temporary increase in distress during sessions and following sessions. Your therapist will provide guidance and support throughout the process to ensure your safety and well-being. It's essential to communicate openly with your therapist about any concerns or reactions you may have during EMDR sessions.

What training have you received in EMDR?

I have received accredited training in EMDR therapy. EMDR training is regulated through the Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing International Association (EMDRIA) to ensure that all professionals receive accredited training prior to providing EMDR therapy to clients. An EMDRIA Approved EMDR Training provides clinicians with the knowledge and skills to utilize EMDR therapy, a comprehensive understanding of case conceptualization and treatment planning, and the ability to integrate EMDR therapy into their clinical practice. All trainings require the following:  All providers must be licensed or under the direct supervision of a licensed mental health provider All providers must complete 20 hours of instructional training in EMDR  All providers must complete 20 practicum hours demonstrating the practice of EMDR All providers must complete 10 hours of consultation in the area of EMDR

I am able to provide EMDR therapy in person to clients located in Calgary, Alberta or virtually to clients located throughout Canada. Please reach out to inquire about virtual EMDR therapy.

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