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EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

"The past affects the present even without our being aware of it." - Dr. Francine Shapiro

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EMDR Therapy

Are you feeling stuck and exhausted from trying to cope with psychologically distressing emotions?

  • Suffering from the effects of a motor vehicle accident or other traumatic event?
  • Struggling with being stuck in your past?
  • Experiencing difficulties in your relationships?
  • Frustrated with parenting?
  • Held back by symptoms of anxiety, panic, and/or depression?
  • Struggling with unresolved childhood trauma?
  • Battling intrusive flashbacks or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
  • Suffering from Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)?
  • Limited by overwhelming fear?
  • Distressed by adverse life experiences?

EMDR therapy can help you relieve painful, distressing symptoms, heal from trauma and adverse life experiences, and function more adaptively.

Often clients who have made slow progress in the past, or who have found disappointment with traditional therapies, express that after EMDR they have at last found something helpful that works for them. Many clients have come to us after years of frustration and have tried a variety of mental health services to deal with debilitating symptoms of psychological distress. Following EMDR therapy, we frequently hear clients say they are amazed at how quickly they are relieved of distressing emotions, which medications and other treatments could not do.

What is EMDR?

EMDR is a powerful psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven to be highly effective in relieving many types of psychological distress. It's not hypnosis and doesn't erase memories; individuals are completely aware and in control during sessions. What it does do is help people to heal by reprocessing disturbing memories on a cognitive, physical, and emotional level. This allows individuals to see the disturbing material in a different, more adaptive way.

EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation, right/left eye movement, tactile stimulation, and/or auditory stimulation which repeatedly activates the opposite sides of the brain, helping to release emotional experiences that are stuck in the nervous system. In this way, EMDR works on a neurophysiological level, the basis of the mind/body connection, to allow the system to remove blockages and reconnect itself.

As disturbing images and feelings are processed by the brain, resolution of disturbing emotions, relief from distress, and a more peaceful state are achieved.

A psychologist requires specialized training to become an EMDR practitioner, and follows a set of standardized protocols that incorporate elements from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other treatment approaches. The complete clinical definition can be downloaded from EMDR Canada.

If you are looking for an EMDR therapist, Alberta Counselling Centre has a number of EMDR-trained psychologists that can help you. We are pleased to offer these treatments, utilizing equipment that is authorized by the EMDR Institute for use with adults, adolescents, and children.

Check out our Services page for more information on our individual therapy sessions for EMDR.

The Origins of EMDR

In 1987, a psychologist named Dr. Francine Shapiro began developing a therapy she called Eye Movement Desensitization and Processing (EMDR). Through her own personal experiences, she noticed that rapid eye movements could reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts.

She set up numerous studies and conducted scientific research to examine the effects of EMDR treatment on victims of trauma. In 1989, Dr. Shapiro published her findings and reported success in using EMDR therapy to treat victims of trauma in the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Since then, EMDR has evolved and has been used to help relieve adults, adolescents, and children from psychological stress of adverse life experiences. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of individuals relieve many types of psychological stress.

It is recommended and recognized as an effective treatment by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and many other international health agencies.

EMDR therapy has been established as an evidence-based practice for the treatment of depression symptoms and anxiety, as well as a for a treatment for PTSD. It has been reported to show success with the following:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
  • anxiety;
  • loss or injury of a loved one;
  • motor vehicle accident;
  • trauma;
  • work accident;
  • assault;
  • rape;
  • natural disaster;
  • injury or illness;
  • witness to violence;
  • childhood abuse;
  • stage fright and performance anxiety;
  • depression;
  • disturbed sleep;
  • symptoms of anxiety or panic;
  • phobias;
  • childhood trauma;
  • physical abuse;
  • sexual abuse;
  • panic attacks;
  • low self-esteem;
  • relationship problems;
  • addiction;
  • performance enhancement.

"Changing the memories that form the way we see ourselves also changes the way we view others. Therefore, our relationships, job performance, what we are willing to do or are able to resist, all move in a positive direction." - Dr. Francine Shapiro

EMDR Therapy Videos

EMDR: PTSD & Trauma

NBC News video on EMDR and Trauma.
NBC: EMDR & Trauma
Video: Patient Stories about healing trauma with EMDR.
Healing Trauma: Patient Stories
ABC News video on EMDR and recovery from trauma.
ABC: EMDR & Recovery from Trauma
Trauma and PTSD video.
Trauma & PTSD
HealthBeat video on Trauma Therapy.
HealthBeat: Trauma Therapy
Medical Minute Video: EMDR for Trauma.
Medical Minute:
EMDR for Trauma
Firefighter video interview: PTSD, depression, suicidal thoughts.
Firefighter interview: PTSD & Suicide
NBC News video on EMDR Therapy for Trauma, Anxiety, and Phobias.
NBC: EMDR Therapy
Trauma, Anxiety, Phobias
Video on EMDR for PTSD.

EMDR Informational Videos

EMDR documentary video.
Video: What is EMDR therapy?
What is EMDR Therapy
(Dr.Andrew Dobo)
Video: What is EMDR?
What is EMDR?
Video: How EMDR works.
Why EMDR works
EMDR informational video.
Video: Getting Past Your Past with Dr. Francine Shapiro.
Getting Past Your Past
(Dr. Francine Shapiro)
HealingQuest TV Video: EMDR Therapy
HealingQuest TV: EMDR Therapy
Animated Video: How EMDR works.
How EMDR Works
Personal video stories of healing with EMDR.
Healing with EMDR:
Personal Stories
Video: What is an EMDR Session like?
What is an EMDR session like?

Child EMDR

Video: EMDR with children.
Child EMDR (8-12y)
Video: Child EMDR.
Child EMDR
Video: 7 Year old girl raises funds for EMDR.
Child raises funds for EMDR