Image by Eric Ward

EMDR Therapy

Trauma        Distressing Memories         Anxiety

"Healing does not mean the trauma never existed. It means the trauma no longer controls your life"

EMDR Theapy


EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.


The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health; however, if the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.


Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience an 'unblocking' of their system, and the benefits of therapy are experienced at a rate that once took years.


There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense.


EMDR therapy is also effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and the myriad of problems that bring them in for therapy. 

EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment. 


Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during one part of the session.  After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, they ask the client to hold different aspects of that event, or thought, in mind and to use their eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision.  As this happens, for reasons believed to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the client will begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings.


In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level. Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.  The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once debased them. 


As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, the clients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior are all robust indicators of emotional health and resolution—all without speaking in detail or doing homework used in other therapies.



Information adapted from

What You Can Expect During EMDR:

Focus is given to: 

  • past disturbing memories and related events,

  • current situations that cause distress,

  • and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions. 

Phase 1:  The first phase is a history-taking session(s).  The therapist assesses the client’s readiness and develops a treatment plan.  Client and therapist identify possible targets for EMDR processing. 

Note: Initial EMDR work may be focused on earlier events, even childhood experiences, before addressing the identified issue.

Phase 2:  Processing in EMDR therapy is best achieved when a client is able to self-regulate their emotional state. This is why a client will work with the therapist in this stage to identify different ways of handling emotional stress. 

Phases 3-6:  In phases three to six, a target is identified and processed using EMDR therapy procedures.  This involves:


  1. The vivid visual image related to the memory

  2. A negative belief about self.

  3. A positive belief about self.

  4. Related emotions and body sensations

  5. Focusing on the disturbing memory and negative self-belief during bi-lateral stimulation using eye movements, taps, or tones. At this point, the EMDR client is instructed to just notice whatever is happening for them in the moment (ie: body sensations, thoughts, emotions).  These repeated sets with directed focused attention occur numerous times throughout the session. 

    When the client reports no distress related to the targeted memory, (s)he is asked to think of the preferred positive belief that was identified at the beginning of the session, along with additional bi-lateral stimulation.

Phase 7:  In phase seven the therapist asks the client to keep a log during the week.  The log should document any related material that may arise.  It serves to remind the client of the self-calming activities that were mastered in phase two.

Phase 8:  The next session begins with phase eight.  Phase eight consists of examining the progress made thus far.  The EMDR treatment processes all related historical events, current incidents that elicit distress, and future events that will require different responses.  


Information adapted from

Struggling with personal issues can be a lonely experience.

Connecting with a counsellor can offer confidentiality and an unbiased perspective.

What You Can Expect From Counselling:

  1. Reconnecting with the strengths, skills, and knowledge you have.

  2. Learn new skills, and examine different perspectives related to your situation.

  3. Gain a sense of clarity around your goals and how to achieve them.

  4. Increased awareness of contextual factors related to your problems.

  5. Experience a sense of relief from issues weighing you down. 

  6. Increased sense of identity, purpose, and direction.

*Integrative Counselling does not prescribe medication or provide diagnosis of individuals.

If a client is interested in diagnosis, they will be referred to another service*

What Is My First Appointment Like?​​​?

  1. Going over the Informed Consent document is always the first priority prior to engaging in a counselling relationship. This document details multiple aspects of the counselling experience, such as counselling values, benefits and risks, boundaries, and the limitations of confidentiality. Please take time to read through the document prior to your session. A portion of the first appointment will address the Informed Consent document to ensure there are no concerns or questions. 

  2. The first session will always be somewhat different depending on the individual and their needs. However, a first session typically includes information gathering by the counsellor such as your name, birth date, contact numbers, an address, etc.  

  3. Often a family tree (genogram) is created to provide information about your family structure and dynamics, and as you settle into the environment additional information sharing around a specific issue unfolds

    This is your time and your space.

  4. As the session concludes, depending on the content of the discussion and the issue/s presented, you may be invited to create a goal and participate in personal work until your next session. 

Every Person Needs An Opportunity To Be Heard

Integrative Counselling   403-360-6056   2004 - 18th St. Coaldale, AB. T1M 1M4