Frequently Asked Questions About EMDR

“EMDR quickly opens new windows on reality, allowing people to see solutions within themselves that they never knew were there. And it’s a therapy where the client is very much in charge, which can be particularly meaningful when people are recovering from having their power taken away by  abuse and violation.”

Laura S Brown, PhD, Recipient of the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Public Service

How Does EMDR Work?

When someone is very upset their brain does not seem to process information the way it is supposed to. Consequently, a disturbing memory becomes “frozen in time” and the sensations are continually re-experienced – often with the same intensity as when the event occurred. This can then trigger negative thoughts and emotions in present day living. These negative thoughts, emotions, and sensations then block the individual from achieving important goals and living life with full confidence and strength.

EMDR is a simple process that engages our brain to send a message into the central nervous system to release the information that is no longer needed – such as habitual negative feelings and false beliefs. These negative emotions and beliefs were often absorbed when we were much younger. For this reason, EMDR serves as a “developmental catch up” and moves us rapidly through the past stuckness. This process acts to jumpstart our own ability to overcome blocks or barriers.

EMDR is very powerful. It clears the mind, so that the disturbing past images, sounds, and feelings are no longer “relived” when the original event comes to mind. In fact, recent state-of-the-art brain imaging indicates that EMDR facilitates communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain and it appears to get all parts of the brain working together to process memory more effectively and accurately.

Who Will Benefit from EMDR Treatment?

  • anyone who has experienced a trauma (see Trauma description for different types of trauma)
  • anyone diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • anyone experiencing anxiety or phobias
  • people suffering with low self-esteem
  • people struggling with poor body image or eating disorders
  • people suffering with pain management
  • anyone concerned about their work or sports performance
  • someone in a leadership or management role
  • people working in sales, marketing, educators, coaches, public relations, or performing arts
  • people in transition (e.g., changing careers requiring higher levels of productivity)
  • anyone experiencing conflict with friends, family, coworkers, or superiors

EMDR is the most researched psychotherapeutic treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

What is a First Session Like?

Before proceeding with EMDR, I will meet with you in a first session to obtain your current concerns and background history. If it appears EMDR is an appropriate treatment, you will be given information about it so you can determine for yourself if it is something you want. If you agree to engage in EMDR treatment, I will first establish some resources to ensure your safety and comfort during treatment. This will include visualizations to create a calm place and container. When you start an EMDR session you will identify the distressing event, the thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations you have when thinking about it. At the same time, we use a vibrating tapper held in each hand (bilateral stimulation). You will notice whatever comes to mind without making any conscious decision to direct or to control the thoughts. There is no right or wrong way to think through this process. Often you may have only body sensations. Sets of tapping will continue until the memory becomes much less distressing and you have developed more positive beliefs about yourself in relationship to that memory. It is important to realize that you are the one in charge. The vast majority of my clients report feeling significantly relieved and much calmer at the completion of the first session.

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Will My Health Insurance Cover the Cost?

EMDR is used in combination with other forms of treatment. Check the benefits of your heath plan to determine the coverage for working with a Registered Psychologist.

How Many Sessions Will I Need?

The number of sessions depends on the specific problem, your history, and the complexity of the distressing memories. The amount of preparation needed will vary from client to client. In the majority of instances, the active processing of memories should begin after one or two sessions. Once EMDR therapy is started, a typical course of treatment is 3 to 10 sessions. Studies show that a single trauma can be processed within 3 sessions in 80-90% of the clients. The process is normally conducted weekly or every other week. Sessions can run from 60 to 90 minutes.

How Do I Know That EMDR Works?

EMDR accelerates the healing process and you should begin to notice positive changes physically, mentally, and emotionally within the first few sessions. Experiences of several million people worldwide, and a number of scientific studies, have shown that EMDR works! For further references and a bibliography of research visit these websites: The EMDR Institute™ (Founded by Dr. Francine Shapiro) and the EMDR International Association.

Woman with Friends

Interested in learning more about EMDR or setting up an appointment? Call me at 403-891-1384 for your free 15-minute phone consultation. I look forward to hearing from you!