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What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR) therapy is a highly effective and evidence-based psychological treatment that was developed in the late 1980’s by Francine Shapiro. It’s primarily used to address and treat trauma-related disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The belief is that distressing memories and experiences can become ingrained in one’s brain, contributing to ongoing emotional distress and psychological symptoms. EMDR unlocks and reprocesses the memories, allowing individuals to move forward and heal.

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How does EMDR work?

EMDR works using bilateral stimulation, typically through guided eye movements or other movements such as tapping or auditory cues. During an EMDR session, an individual may be asked to focus on traumatic memories or distressing experiences, while the therapist ensures consistent bilateral movements. This process aims to help the brain process the memories with less emotional charge and develop new, more adaptive beliefs.

Why Use EMDR Therapy?

EMDR has been shown to provide relief from trauma related symptoms in a faster time frame than traditional talk therapy. Research indicates it can significantly reduce distress associated with traumatic memories, leading to improved mental health and well-being.

What is EMDR Used for?

EMDR can be a versatile treatment which applies to a variety of issues and conditions, including:

  • Trauma/PTSD: EMDR can be an effective treatment for trauma including exposure to violence, accidents, natural disasters and adverse childhood experiences. It’s an effective method of reducing emotional distress associated with such memories.
  • Anxiety Disorders: EMDR can be used to address various forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder and phobias. It assists individuals process the underlying cause of their anxiety.
  • Depression: EMDR can help identify and reprocess past events that contribute to depressive symptoms, and help alleviate those symptoms.
  • Grief and Loss

What to expect from an EMDR Appointment

Each patient is unique and treatment will be customized as needed, however, in general, an individual can expect the following:

  • A history and assessment will be performed by a registered psychotherapist. This is done to gather information about the individual’s history and specific issues they would like to address.
  • Preparation: The therapist will explain the EMDR process and ensure the individual is mentally prepared to revisit emotionally straining memories. Relaxation techniques can be used to assist in the process.
  • Target Memory Selection: The individual will select a specific traumatic memory or issue to focus on for the session or sessions.
  • Bilateral Stimulation: EMDR involves bilateral stimulation, which can be in the form of eye movement, tactile sensations such as tapping, or auditory cues. These stimulations are used to help process the targeted memory.
  • Desensitization and Reprocessing: While engaging in bilateral stimulation, the individual is guided to recall the distressing memory along with associated thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. The goal is to desensitize the emotional charge and replace negative beliefs with adaptive ones.
  • Closure: The therapist will help the individual return to a relaxed state and address any remaining distressing emotions.
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Finding the right psychotherapist can be an overwhelming process. Book a free 15 minute consultation call to discuss your therapy needs and get the answers to any questions you may have. Psychotherapy and counselling services are offered in Burlington and virtually for residents of Ontario.