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EMDR Therapy: What You Need to Know

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In Canada, around eight percent of the population has symptoms that meet the criteria for a probable PTSD diagnosis.

People have a number of different responses to trauma. This is because not everyone perceives the event in the same way.

Treating trauma can take time, and healing looks different for everyone. However, EMDR therapy has been proven to be very helpful for many people.

Starting therapy can be scary. Our goal with this guide is to make it less intimidating.

We are going to inform you about EMDR therapy. You'll learn what it is, how it works, and the pros and cons. Read on to take the first steps toward healing.

How EMDR Works

In 1987, a psychologist by the name of Dr. Francine Shapiro created a therapeutic technique called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. Shapiro went through a traumatic event when her friend died from cancer. While walking down the street, Shapiro was thinking of disturbing thoughts associated with her friend’s death. Her eyes started moving up and down and left and right. She found that the eye movements reduced the emotional salience and decreased the intensity of the emotions and thoughts she was feeling.

Using bilateral stimulation, such as tapping, audio-tones, or eye movements, the client can process the trauma, which reduces the emotional salience or perceived disturbance of the event as the sessions progress. That is, while the person may still be able to recall the event, the disturbing or distressing feelings associated with the event become far less powerful as therapy progresses.

A Typical Session

Before starting EMDR therapy (or any therapy for that matter), it is important you feel comfortable and safe with your therapist. If you don't feel safe, it won't be as effective.

Knowing what to expect in a session will make you feel more comfortable and help you have a more successful appointment.

EMDR therapy at NeuroThrive Networks will consist of a series of sessions. They will be 75-90 minutes in duration. Targets will initially be identified that represent traumatic events, and particular preparatory steps will be developed prior to the initiation of treatment. EMDR can be used in conjunction with other therapies. It is non-invasive and safe to use for patients of all ages. Treatment typically alternates between EMDR therapy sessions and traditional counselling sessions.

Alternating between the two treatment modalities allows the individual to process the event in both brain hemispheres sequentially, which allows for maximal recovery from the trauma. In this way, the client reprocesses the traumatic event, which significantly decreases the emotional salience of the event(s).

EMDR: The breakthrough therapy for overcoming anxiety, stress, trauma” by Francine Shapiro

EMDR as an integrative psychotherapy approach,” edited by Francine Shapiro

EMDR and family therapy processesFrancine Shapiro and Florence Kaslow


There are a number of reasons therapists from NeuroThrive Networks recommend EMDR therapy. It's effective. There have been countless studies that show positive results (citation and link to EMDR institute). It is non-invasive and safe to use with all ages of clientele. While it can be effective for prolonged symptoms of complex or single-event PTSD, it is very effective for the acute phase of PTSD. Therefore, if you have recently experienced a significant traumatic event within the last three months that is still bothersome, it is best to seek support as soon as possible.

EMDR does not require much homework. Many other forms of therapy will require you to journal or do work outside of your session. Generally, you will know within the first or second EMDR session if it will work for you.


Not everyone responds to Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing in the same way, and it is not useful for other conditions such as depression. In addition, complex, prolonged, or complicated traumatic experiences may require longer periods of treatment which means increased time commitment and cost.

EMDR Therapy

EMDR therapy is a great option if you're experiencing stress from a traumatic event. Many people don't seek out help when they need it. It can be challenging to start therapy, but it can greatly improve your quality of life and your sense of well-being.

Don't wait to start healing. Book an appointment with one of our therapists at NeuroThrive Networks and learn how EMDR can assist to assist you in thriving in life!


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