"Scars may remind us where we've been, but they don't have to dictate where we're going"

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) (Information from this page from the EMDRIA website, 2016)   


Click on link to see a new informational EMDR video




Click on link for a full explanation of the 8 stages of EMDR



EMDR is an effective form of psychotherapy that was originally developed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. EMDR can be used with children, youth and adults. During an EMDR session an individual focuses on emotionally disturbing material in brief doses while simultaneously focusing on an external bilateral stimulus such as eye movements, tapping, tones or hand-pulsers. EMDR stimulates information processing and creates new associations between the traumatic memory making them more adaptive resulting in a new perspective and emotional healing.


EMDR has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of many symptoms and mental health issues such as PTSD, trauma, performance, low self-esteem, addiction, grief, somatic troubles, anxiety depression, single-trauma incidents and more.


EMDR has a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches such as mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychoanalysis and client-centred. No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neurobiologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. A traumatic moment becomes frozen in time and remembering a trauma may feel as bad as going through it the first time because the images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven't changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and functions in the present day.


EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way that the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed following treatment, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting (desensitization) and replaced with a more adaptive response (reprocessing). 


How Trauma Interferes with Emotional Health

People have been experiencing trauma for thousands of years. Arousal is the physical reaction to a perceived threat that energizes all animal's survival responses. It is also known as the fight or flight or freeze mechanism. Designed for a physical world, arousal  either activates or shuts down certain physiological reactions that prepare the body to fight danger, to run away from danger, or to numb the pain response if the danger proves fatal. Because we too are animals, human beings share the fight or flight or freeze reaction. These responses are instinctual; they pre-date even the most primitive parts of the brain.


The roots of trauma lie in an instinctive physical fear response that has become suspended in the brain and nervous system. Thus initiates troublesome symptoms such as avoidance, sleep problems, forgetfulness, headaches, irritability, intrusive thoughts, phobias, anxiety attacks, and so many more. These are all symptoms of hyper-vigilance (fight or flight). When your body cannot sustain constant hyper-vigilance, the freeze response is activated. Symptoms include a loss of motivation, indecision, confusion, physical pain, numbing, fatigue, body tension, isolation and depression. Furthermore, trauma symptoms are very commonplace and often misunderstood or un-recognized. Sometimes, indicators of trauma can remain hidden for years and then, suddenly surface.


Trauma experiences can be conceptualized as existing on a spectrum and on any area of the spectrum can be responsible for trauma symptoms:


Big-“T” Trauma origins are buried in experiences such as:

  • childhood abuse, neglect and a lack of basic safety

  • critical events (crime, accidents, fire, terrorist attacks etc.)

  • sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape

  • natural disaster

  • birth trauma and surgery

  • death of a loved one

  • physical or psychological violence or torture


Small -“t” Traumas are other events that can create problematic trauma symptoms but at first glance, may not appear at the same intensity. These incidents could include:

  • workplace harassment, stress, conflict, and termination

  • being gossiped about

  • relational betrayals

  • embarrassing experiences

  • experiencing bullying

  • the ending of a relationship or friendship

  • the death of a pet

  • moving or other significant change

  • personal failures

  • Not meeting family expectations



While most people recognize the negative effects of extreme forms of trauma, such as abuse, violence and being the victim of a crime, they may be unaware that seemingly benign child- or adulthood situations can lead to widespread and hidden after-effects that are just as debilitating.


The origins of "small-t” trauma lie in those unresolved moments, often in childhood, when you felt overwhelmed, powerless and confused. Some examples could be: being seriously scolded by a teacher or teased by a schoolmate. It can even be a single statement made by an authority figure that you still hear clearly to this day such as, “You’re fat.”


In adulthood, these moments are frequently perceived as unimportant. However, they can create a significant amount of stress, physical symptoms and even cause shifts in personality.


If you have experienced any of the following and are still negatively affected by the experience EMDR can help you:

  • Abuse (childhood/ adult) emotional, physical, sexual, spiritual, neglect

  • Assault sexual/physical

  • Any kind of accident

  • Natural disasters

  • Injury

  • Illness

  • Any kind of trauma (if it still effects you today it does not matter if it seemed like it shouldn't have been a big deal, or if was a really big deal;trauma is trauma)

  • Witness to violence/crime

  • Victim of violence/crime

  • Performance anxiety

  • Public speaking

  • Depression

  • Anxiety, panic or worry

  • Phobia or fears

  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)

  • Low self-esteem or poor self-image

  • Relationship problems

  • Issues of trust

  • Feelings of guilt or shame

  • Nightmares

  • Disturbing thoughts

  • Addictions

  • Physical pain