What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma and many other mental health problems.” emdrcanada.org

This is a therapy where you think about something that bothers you (like a traumatic or troubling memory or issue) and I give you pulses, beeps or taps in sets of about 30 seconds. The pulses, beeps or taps are a ‘back and forth’ or bilateral stimulation of the brain. The idea is that traumatic or troubling memories sometimes get ‘stuck’ in the information-processing system of the brain, along with the emotions and even the physical sensations that went with the original experience.

When something bad happens, it happens first to the body, then the emotions kick in and then you start to ‘reprocess the event – you think about it, sleep on it, get support, time passes, etc. At the end of that reprocessing, you can still remember the bad event, but it no longer bothers you – I am sure you can think of bad things that have happened in your life, and you still remember them, but you have peace with them. That is an example of the brain working the way it should. But sometimes this reprocessing gets stuck, and this is where EMDR comes in. It ‘desensitizes and reprocesses’ the difficult memory or issue so that you can have peace with it.

EMDR Therapy focuses on the past, the present and the future. When you have completed EMDR Therapy you will not only have resolved past traumatic or troubling memories, you will also be comfortable with any present day triggers that developed, and confident about any challenging issues coming up in the future.

Who can benefit from EMDR?

EMDR Therapy is a powerful, transformative process that can benefit individuals of all ages and backgrounds experiencing symptoms associated with a wide range of issues. These issues may include but are not limited to:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Low self esteem and self worth
  • Flashbacks
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Phobias
  • Over-reactive anger
  • Worrying
  • Disturbed sleep

What to expect from an EMDR session?

Initially, we will spend a session taking a history of any unresolved memories as well as any current triggers that have developed. Then, we will spend some time getting you ready for EMDR by strengthening your inner resources. When you are ready, you think about the issue or traumatic memory and we do a number of ‘sets’ of bilateral stimulation (taps, pulses or beeps). It is useful to use the metaphor of a train journey – like you are sitting in the carriage of a train, here in our office in the current moment, and if upsetting feelings come up, it is just like the scenery outside the train. All you have to do is notice and let it go by. Your brain is looking to take you wherever it needs to go. Research has shown that the brain is oriented towards health. We are simply engaging the power of your brain to promote healing.

Getting Started

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Additional EMDR Therapy Resources