Counselling services

EMDR Therapy in Calgary

Heal 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 where the EMDR therapist asks the client to focus on a troubling memory or emotion while moving the eyes rapidly back and forth (by following the therapist’s fingers).

Close up of a man’s eye.

When EMDR is a Good Fit

EMDR is not made for one specific person; everyone dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder or trauma can benefit from this treatment. The following are examples of adverse life experiences that EMDR can help treat:

Other Uses Of EMDR Therapy

Get help treating troubling symptoms of traumatic events, life experiences, and mental health issues.
Woman in distraught with her hands on her head.

Healing Trauma

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

Addressing Mental Health Concerns

Living with post-traumatic stress or other traumatic memories can trigger various mental health conditions. With EMDR, you can treat trauma with reprocessing therapy and create a better relationship with yourself, resulting in better 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 an intense, emotional experience, which is why it is treated in 8 phases. Your therapist will work with you to increase your emotional tolerance and emotional regulation so that you can deal with your distressing emotions.

The Eight Phases of EMDR

Although every therapy session is tailored to you and your needs, your typical EMDR therapy session will take you through the eight-phase treatment.

Phase 1


You and your EMDR therapist work together to collect basic information about your background, personal history, and past traumatic experiences.

Phase 2

Treatment Planning For EMDR Therapy

You and your therapist work to ensure you are comfortable dealing with disturbing memories and have resources, support, and a plan for making therapy a positive experience.

Phase 3


The memories that have not been pushed forward are identified, then the most disturbing part 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: Fear and shame, with disturbance level 10 in the belly and chest.

Phase 4


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

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 step is done in sets, which may last from a few seconds to a few minutes.

During each set, you will be instructed to notice whatever changes occur in your mind and body without controlling the experience in any way. Very often, in the first few sets, there is an increase in the disturbance level. However, after a while, with each new set, the targeted disturbing memory and traumatic images become less and less disturbing, and the positive belief feels more and more true.

Phase 5


The target is completely processed when you’re asked to recall distressing 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 image anymore.

Phase 6

Body Scan

To complete trauma processing, you are then asked to scan your body and find any leftover somatic (body) disturbance that is cleared and dissipated.

Phase 7


The session ends with more resourcing and a plan for how you will cope between sessions and provide you with the tools and support you use to deal with any side effects.

Phase 8


At the beginning of your next session, a re-evaluation is done on your integration of the now-processed memories to ensure desensitization is complete.

Benefits of EMDR

EMDR is recognized worldwide as an effective treatment of trauma and PTSD. There are numerous benefits that EMDR has for struggling clients.

Faster Healing

EMDR trauma therapy has been proven to help people through the healing process faster.

Permanent Effects

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

No-Drug Therapy

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

The Origin of EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was developed in 1989 after Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., observed that the intensity of her disturbing thoughts and feelings decreased after her eyes had been moving rapidly back and forth.

Dr. Shapiro decided to explore this phenomenon further for her doctoral thesis in psychology. Through her research, she found that using rapid eye movements successfully relieved chronic distress in victims who experienced a traumatic event.

Learn more about how EMDR therapy can facilitate lasting, positive change on our blog post.

Therapist and client talking.

Is EMDR Therapy Right for You?

EMDR is effective for treating trauma and is an appropriate method for addressing any disturbance that exists in the memory. If you have a negative emotional response to your memories, EMDR may be suitable for you.

Contact us today to find out more about our EMDR counselling services.

If you are currently in a crisis with limited stability and aren’t ready for EMDR practice, you may be a better fit for our other individual mental health services. 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 know your past traumas don’t define you. Our EMDR psychologists in our Calgary office will help determine the best therapy solution and work with you to receive positive growth results.

After we meet to discuss your traumatic memory, our highly-trained registered psychologists and certified EMDR therapists will work with you to help bring peace and clarity back to 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 appointment today!

Therapist writing notes on a sheet.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a scientifically proven therapy method, EMDR 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 PTSD or trauma 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 the severity of the trauma, your history, and your ability to tolerate high levels of distress. In some cases, one EMDR treatment session is enough. Usually, it 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 traumas. 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 feel those painful thoughts and feelings, 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 memories or flashbacks that were brought up during your EMDR session. If you have new insights, vivid dreams, strong feelings, or memory recall, 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 are in illegal proceedings, have little social support, 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.