Counselling services

EMDR Therapy in Calgary

Find healing for your trauma with EMDR Therapy

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What Is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic bilateral stimulation technique that helps victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other disorders heal from their past negative experiences. During an EMDR session, the EMDR therapist will ask the client to focus on a troubling emotion or memory while moving the eyes rapidly back and forth (by following the psychologist’s fingers).

Close up of a man’s eye.

Who Can Benefit From EMDR

EMDR is a versatile therapy that can benefit anyone dealing with PTSD or other forms of trauma. The following are examples of adverse life experiences that EMDR can effectively treat:

Other Uses Of EMDR Therapy

Get help treating troubling symptoms of mental health issues, traumatic events, and life experiences.

Woman in distraught with her hands on her head.

Healing Trauma

EMDR can ease the symptoms of major distressing events, chronic PTSD, childhood trauma, or smaller, negative experiences and help you overcome them.

Addressing Mental Health Concerns

Coping with PTSD or other traumatic memories can trigger various mental health conditions. EMDR uses a reprocessing therapy method that enables you to address trauma effectively, fostering a stronger self-connection and ultimately leading to improved mental clarity.

A therapist sitting across from an EMDR client.
Therapist writing down notes while the client sits in distress on an opposite chair.

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy can be deeply emotional, which is why it is treated in 8 phases. Throughout the EMDR process, your therapist will work with you to enhance your emotional regulation and tolerance, empowering you to deal with your distressing emotions. Contact us today to learn more about EMDR Therapy in Calgary.

The Eight Phases of EMDR

Every EMDR therapy session is customized to address your individual needs. However, during a typical session, you will undergo the following eight-phase treatment process.

Phase 1


You and your EMDR psychologist work together to gather essential details about your personal history, background, and past traumatic experiences.

Phase 2

Treatment Planning For EMDR Therapy

You and your therapist actively work to create a comfortable environment where you feel at ease addressing disturbing memories. Additionally, you will receive resources, support, and a plan for making therapy a positive and constructive experience.

Phase 3


The memories that have not been processed are identified, then the most distressing aspect of the memory/incident becomes the processing target.

Example: Imagine the rapist’s face. The negative belief connected to psychological distress and trauma is identified.

Example: I am going to die. A preferred, positive belief is named.

Example: I am safe now.

On a scale of 1-7, you will be asked to rate how true the positive belief feels when paired with the target. Usually, it does not feel very true at this point.

You will then be asked to name the emotions that the target elicits. You will also be asked to rate the associated distress level on a scale of 0-10 and to locate the emotional pain or disturbance in the body.

Example: Shame and fear, with disturbance level 10 in the belly and chest.

Phase 4


You will be asked to hold awareness of the incident, the disturbing body sensations, and the negative beliefs and emotions.

At the same time, the therapist guides your eyes to move rapidly back and forth or uses pulsating pods that are held in each hand. This process is conducted in sets, ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes each.

Throughout each set, you will be guided to observe any changes happening in your mind and body without controlling the experience in any way. Frequently, during the initial sets, there is an increase in the disturbance level. However, as you progress through each subsequent set, the targeted traumatic memory and disturbing images become less disturbing, and the positive belief feels more and more true.

Phase 5


The target is completely processed when you’re asked to recall traumatic images, and they no longer bring up disturbing emotions, and the preferred positive belief feels totally true.

Example: The client recalls that the rapist’s face was threatening then but does not feel threatened by the disturbing memory anymore.

Phase 6

Body Scan

To complete trauma processing, you will be requested to scan your body and identify any remaining somatic (body) disturbance that is cleared and dissipated.

Phase 7


At the end of the session, additional resourcing is provided, along with a well-devised plan to help you cope between sessions. You will also be equipped with the necessary tools and support to manage any potential side effects that may arise.

Phase 8


At the beginning of your next session, a re-evaluation is conducted to assess the integration of the now-processed memories, ensuring that the desensitization process is complete.

Benefits of EMDR

EMDR is an internationally-recognized trauma treatment method for those with PTSD or other trauma disorders. There are numerous benefits that EMDR has for struggling clients.

Faster Healing

EMDR trauma therapy is a proven and effective treatment method for helping people heal faster than other therapy forms.

Permanent Effects

EMDR is able to reduce the chronic symptoms of past trauma permanently.

No-Drug Therapy

EMDR does not rely on hypnosis or drugs, allowing you to stay completely in charge throughout the process.

The Origin of EMDR Therapy

In 1989, EMDR therapy was developed when Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., noticed a reduction in the intensity of her distressing thoughts and emotions after her eyes moved rapidly back and forth.

Intrigued by this discovery, Dr. Shapiro delved deeper into the concept for her doctoral thesis in psychology. Through her studies, she discovered that using rapid eye movements successfully relieved chronic distress in victims who had experienced traumatic events.

For further insights into how EMDR therapy can facilitate lasting, positive change, read our blog post.

Therapist and client talking.

Is EMDR Therapy Right for You?

EMDR is an effective approach to trauma treatment, capable of addressing any disturbance that exists in the memory. If you experience a negative emotional response to your memories, EMDR may be a suitable option for you.

Contact us today to learn more about our EMDR counselling services.

If you are currently facing a crisis with limited stability and don’t feel prepared for EMDR therapy, our other individual mental health services may be a better fit for your needs. All of our services are available in Calgary, Alberta.

Guy talking to a therapist.

Our Approach to EMDR Therapy

At Can’t We Just Get Along Counselling, we firmly believe your past traumas don’t define you. Our Calgary-based EMDR psychologists are here to assess and identify the most suitable therapy approach for you, ensuring positive growth results.

Once we’ve had a chance to discuss your traumatic memories during our initial meeting, our team of highly-trained registered psychologists and certified EMDR therapists will work with you to restore peace and clarity in your life.

Get the Help You Need to Heal Your Trauma & Address Mental Health Concerns

If you’re struggling with PTSD or past traumas, don’t fight this battle alone. Your mental health problems are treatable, and getting support will result in the greatest chance of healing. Book your EMDR appointment today!
Therapist writing notes on a sheet.

Frequently Asked Questions

The amount of EMDR sessions needed will vary depending on your situation and how you respond to this treatment method. When you meet with us for your initial appointment, we will determine a unique treatment plan that works best for you.
EMDR is most commonly used for people living with PTSD. However, it has been found effective in treating other trauma-related disorders, such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and more.

EMDR is a scientifically proven therapy method that is highly successful for candidates struggling with traumas. According to The Trauma Practice, traumatic stress studies have shown that 84-90% of single-event trauma victims no longer had PTSD symptoms after three sessions. This study is why it is one of the most recommended treatments for those suffering from PTSD or trauma.

Individuals with trauma or PTSD can have maladaptive behaviours. These behaviours hinder your ability to react to specific situations healthily. Through EMDR, your maladaptive networks that connect to your trauma alter, replacing your negative connotations with new positive thoughts and a healthier way of thinking.
Your EMDR treatment process depends on your history, the severity of the trauma, and your ability to tolerate high levels of distress. In some cases, one EMDR treatment session is enough to treat trauma. Usually, treating trauma takes weeks to months, but sometimes years of treatment are required. However, when EMDR works, it can significantly shorten the overall length of time in therapy.
Psychological services like EMDR are different for everyone. You might uncover past issues or negative memories and negative emotions or physical sensations, which typically pass within a few minutes, as long as the EMDR is not stopped.
Similar to accelerated resolution therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, EMDR does not make you relive your past traumatic event. However, EMDR appears to trigger thoughts and feelings you have previously had as you are unlocking a memory that you may have been suppressing. After your first couple of sessions, you may recall distressing images and feel those painful feelings and thoughts, but you must remember that it is all a part of your healing process.
In the days or weeks after your session, you might continue to process the flashbacks or memories that were brought up during your EMDR session. If you have new insights, strong feelings, memory recall, or vivid dreams, those should be shared with your therapist at the next session. If you feel overwhelmed, you can contact your therapist at any time.

EMDR is most effective when you are at a point where you can process your emotions. If you have little social support, are in illegal proceedings, or are in a crisis with minimal stability, it may not be suitable for you. If you are looking for support with past traumatic events, we have many individual services to help you work through your emotions and create a healthy mental environment.

EMDR therapy will look different for everyone based on their trauma and their process of overcoming those challenges. Following your sessions, you may feel negative feelings as you have processed and come to terms with the trauma you went through. In the long run, EMDR will most likely benefit you and can be a solid solution that you can rely on.