FAQ on EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing)

Why do I, as a Counsellor, choose to offer EMDR to my clients?

As an evidence-based practitioner and researcher myself, it has taken a lot of experimental validation to convince me that EMDR is much more than a passing fad; Indeed it is a very effective psychotherapeutic tool.

After nearly 20 years of research, and continued accolades from professional colleagues, it has proven itself to be a therapy worthy of my clients. Therefore, I have decided to include EMDR in my repertoire of Counselling techniques, as part of a multifaceted approach to Counselling, so that I can provide the very best to my clients, should they, of their own free will, choose it.

What is EMDR?

EMDR is a relatively new and groundbreaking psychotherapeutic technique involving bilateral stimulation of the brain, generally through eye movements much like those occurring naturally during dream or REM sleep. EMDR ‘targets’ upsetting emotional events to allow their reprocessing such that they are no longer as painful nor as disruptive to client’s lives. It is often a wonderful surprise to uncover the reasons why certain circumstances are unsettling to us and to often be, completely and permanently, relieved of them. Studies indicate that EMDR is effective in over 90% of the general populace.
Since the first published EMDR research study done by its developer, Dr. Shapiro in 1989, EMDR has continued to evolve to include contributions made by world therapists and researchers, and to incorporate key elements of multiple psychotherapeutic approaches. Thus far, EMDR has helped approximately 2 million clients find relief from a great variety of psychological distresses.

What does E.M.D.R. stand for?

Eye Movement. Eye movements, or alternating bilateral taps or tones, assist to stimulate the left and right brain hemispheres.

Desensitization refers to reducing or removing the sensitivity of the emotional disturbance(s) associated with a traumatic memory.

Reprocessing refers to the replacement of unhealthy, negative beliefs, associated with traumatic memories, with healthier, more positive, beliefs.

What can EMDR help with?

EMDR has been most studied in its application to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its symptoms. PTSD symptoms include: anxiety, fearfulness, guilt, anger, depression/sadness, panic, sleep disturbances, nightmares, and flashbacks (where the memories are relived). Traditional therapies have met with limited success in treating victims of trauma. However, not only has EMDR therapy been found to be effective in reducing the chronic symptoms which follow trauma, several studies indicate that these benefits may be permanent.

EMDR is useful in treating the two types of trauma; Capital “T” traumas and little “t” traumas. Big “T” traumas are the very disturbing, shocking and often single incident events, such as being a victim, or experiencing a sudden tragedy or loss. Little “t” traumas are smaller, but often involve multiple occurrences of verbal ‘put-downs’ or emotional abuse, and subsequent chronic self-doubt, llow self-esteem and personal challenges in living life and especially, in our personal relationships.

Clinicians have also have reported success using EMDR in the treatment of the following conditions:
    •    panic attacks
    •    complicated grief
    •    dissociative disorders
    •    disturbing memories
    •    phobias
    •    pain disorders
    •    eating disorders
    •    performance anxiety
    •    stress reduction
    •    addictions
    •    sexual and/or physical abuse
    •    body dysmorphic disorders
    •    personality disorders

Again, what two types of trauma can EMDR be used for?

As mentioned EMDR is useful in treating the two types of trauma; Capital “T” traumas and little “t” traumas. Big “T” traumas are the very disturbing events, such as being a victim of a heinous crime, combat, rape, or having the experience of losing a loved one such as a spouse, a parent or a child.  Little “t” traumas are the smaller everyday chronic upsets, such as daily negative childhood messages or abuse, which can lead to the formation of unhealthy self-concepts and low self-esteem. For example, a child may grow up believing that they are not good enough, that they are unlovable, or that they are truly all alone, among other wrongful and painful self-concepts. Naturally, with such unhealthy beliefs, a person’s life may have added challenges in all of its aspects, especially evident in our relationships with others.

What does EMDR look like?

EMDR therapy involves an initial assessment and thorough history taking to determine its appropriateness for any given client and to assess how it might fit into comprehensive treatment plans and goals. Targets for therapy, self-statements and associated emotions are identified.

By holding a thought along with the associated emotions, the clinician will guide eye movements, or bilateral taps or sounds, with specific verbal directions, while monitoring the client’s experience. The time required to complete treatment using EMDR varies with each client, the complexity of issues presenting, and the agreed-upon treatment goals.
Various practitioners schedule differing lengths of time for EMDR therapy. In my practice, EMDR sessions average from 1.5 to 2 hours in length, and may run longer depending on client wishes. Occasionally only one session is required, though it is more common that clients request further EMDR therapy as they make therapeutic progress and personally witness beneficial results. What sort of training do I have in EMDR? I have received accredited training in EMDR and its protocols through the BC School of Professional Psychology. This school operates in accordance to training standards as set by the EMDR International Association. EMDRIA is a world-class organization originally formed in 1995, to set standards, encourage dialogue, quality research and the ongoing development of clinicians and EMDR protocols. When do I utilize EMDR in therapy? Simply put, when my clients choose it. It is never offered as the only solution. Conversely, at BestLife, EMDR is offered to clients as a part of a multifaceted approach to Counselling. It is not the only way to find healing and benefit in therapy. It is entirely up to the client(s) whether or not they wish to take part in it and to utilize it for their own therapeutic goals. It is our pleasure to be able to offer it, to inform clients of it, and then, to honor their choices of whether or not to utilize EMDR therapy for their own personal growth and development.


The people around me can not stop telling me how calm I am. I would not hesitate to recommend EMDR.
— LP
I can not believe I lived in fear for so long. EMDR really helped me out.
— DD
I have no idea how it works, but it does. It felt funny at first, but the insights I found are life changing. I t seems so silly, the things I used to worry so much about. Thanks so much.
— SB