EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

To understand EMDR, first we must understand how memories are stored in the brain. When we experience an event, our brain processes the details of the event by sorting through information such as emotions, beliefs, reactions, in order to create meaning.


At times, information can get stuck or unprocessed, usually when the event is disturbing to us in any way. This may cause our brain to keep some of the information in a raw emotional form instead of integrating it into long-term memory.


The raw emotions can appear as triggers causing our nervous systems to continually think we are reliving the experience or parts of it.

Our bodies and emotions get activated when there is no longer any danger, even after the memory of the event fades.


The reprocessing in EMDR allows the brain to create meaning or “a story” about the old memory. By bringing up the old beliefs, emotions, or reactions through the target memory.


The brain uses those painful memories to make meaning of what we experienced, often revealing to us things we “know” but never fully integrated.

An example may be someone who experienced a car accident and is afraid to drive or has triggers around certain items connected to the accident (ie. Car horns blowing, certain colors of cars cause fear, or being activated with anxiety/fear at the site of the accident).


The belief may be that the person thought s/he was going to die, and although s/he did not, the brain acts in fear as if the person experiences the same accident again and again.


EMDR allows the client to process the old belief “I’m going to die” into “I survived”, which, of course, the person knows but still feels the triggers.


Once the emotions, beliefs, and body sensations are less activated, the brain can process the information as normal, leaving the person with little to no activation (fear/anxiety) about the accident or what were once triggers, no longer are.

EMDR is done through bilateral stimulation of the brain through repeated sets of eye movements, tapping, or using sensors. This will be decided with your therapist through a collaborative approach.

Prior to moving directly into EMDR, the first phase is stabilization.


Part of this is your therapist getting to know you and how much affect you can tolerate.


You may spend some time in this phase of therapy to gain some grounding skills and learn tools to be able to manage big waves of emotions that may come.


EMDR is not a good fit for everyone and EMDR is not a one-size-fits-all type of therapy.


If a client can not tolerate big emotions, is not in a place of safety and stabilization, or is actively in crisis, other interventions may be more beneficial.

For more information regarding research and treatment effects, or if you're curious about what an EMDR session looks like, please visit the EMDR International Association at www.emdria.org

Alberta is located on Treaty territory traditional lands – a traditional gathering place for diverse indigenous peoples whose histories, languages, & cultures are an influential aspect of our community in Medicine Hat and area.

Keys to Hope Counselling Services is committed to ensuring that the spirit of all Treaties are honoured and respected.


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    SE Medicine Hat, Alberta

    Phone: (403)-487-1607

    Fax: (403)-487-1707


    Keys To Hope Counselling Services, Medicine Hat, Alberta
    Keys To Hope Counselling Services, Medicine Hat, Alberta

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