EMDR Therapy

Scientific research has established EMDR as effective for post traumatic stress.  However, clinicians also have reported success using EMDR in treatment of the following conditions: Panic attacks, Complicated grief, Dissociative disorders, Disturbing memories, Phobias, Pain disorders, Performance anxiety, Stress reduction, Addictions, Sexual and/or Physical abuse, Body dysmorphic disorders, Personality Disorders.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress.

The amount of time the complete treatment will take depends upon the history of the client. Complete treatment of the targets involves a three pronged protocol (1-past memories, 2-present disturbance, 3-future actions), and are needed to alleviate the symptoms and address the complete clinical picture.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to process completely the experiences that are causing problems, and to include new ones that are needed for full health. "Processing" does not mean talking about it.

"Processing" means setting up a learning state that will allow experiences that are causing problems to be "digested" and stored appropriately in your brain. That means that what is useful to you from an experience will be learned, and stored with appropriate emotions in your brain, and be able to guide you in positive ways in the future. The inappropriate emotions, beliefs, and body sensations will be discarded. Negative emotions, feelings and behaviors are generally caused by unresolved earlier experiences that are pushing you in the wrong directions. The goal of EMDR therapy is to leave you with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives that will lead to healthy and useful behaviors and interactions.

What is trauma? 

Traumatic events are experiences beyond our ability to adapt. They are worse than stressful; they threaten us, shock us and terrify us. They can make us lose control of ourselves and overwhelm us with feelings of terror, shame, despair and helplessness. As these events are out of the ordinary, they can provoke reactions that seem extreme and "crazy". Not only are these reactions and symptoms normal, they are often a good way to adapt to challenging circumstances. 

The DSM-IV defines the term trauma as living or witnessing an event in which someone is injured or threatened with physical abuse. This event causes intense feelings of fear, despair or horror. 

We use a much broader definition of trauma. We define a trauma as a subjective experience and perceived as disturbing and / or terrifying by the person. This includes continuing or recurring trauma in childhood and adulthood, such as physical or psychological abuse (Ex. neglect, abuse, verbal or physical abuse, spousal abuse, sexual abuse, etc.). 

Source: Women's College Hospital, 2012

There are over 20 controlled studies on EMDR. Their results indicate that EMDR is effective in reducing or eliminating the various symptoms of posttraumatic stress for most clients. Often clients also report an improvement in other associated symptoms, such as anxiety.

Currently, the guidelines of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies recognize EMDR as an effective therapy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress. The same applies to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the United Kingdom Department of Health, the Israeli National Council for Mental Health, and other health organizations or government agencies.

In addition, some studies have also indicated that EMDR can be an efficient and rapid treatment. For more information, the website of the International Association of EMDR presents a bibliography of research on EMDR: www.emdria.org

Source: EMDR Canada


If you feel bad, it probably has something to do with something that has happened to you. It may be related to an accident, an assault, bullying, a fire, or something more horrible. Maybe it happened only once, but it may have lasted for months or even years. When you see that kind of stuff, it can change the way you are. What happened, for example, can pass and repeat in a loop in your mind like a movie or else you do not want anything or maybe you can not sleep anymore. You can also get very nervous or have trouble concentrating.

Many young people do not understand why they suddenly start reacting quite differently from before. In fact, it comes from the memories of the serious things that have happened to them. And terrible impressions, horrible thoughts that go with it. Fortunately, there is something that can help them quickly. It's called EMDR.

Faster than you think...

EMDR, meaning "desensitization and reprocessing through eye movements", is a form of therapy for children, adolescents and adults who have experienced one or more painful experiences when they have experienced problems psychological. Scientists believe that in these cases, memories of painful experiences are not stored as they should be in memory. When the EMDR has corrected this, the problems that brought you here will diminish or disappear.

The nice thing about EMDR is that you'll see improvements quickly. If you have had only one bad experience, you will probably have finished the therapy earlier than someone who has been threatened or abused for longer. But even in these cases, EMDR is very useful.

Liza (17 years old):

 "When I started, I had nightmares. They looked so real that it was as if I was still being abused. I had trouble sleeping and I could not concentrate during the day, so my classroom work went completely into spin as well. I reproached myself for sexual abuse. I thought it was like a punishment for something wrong that I had to do before. Now, when I think I feel responsible for my cousin's actions, it makes me angry. I know that I am worth as much as everyone, and that I deserve respect, too. The nightmares are gone. I sleep better and it works well in school too because I am much more fit. At first, I found it a little strange, these movements with eyes. But, just see where I am now. I have much more confidence in myself and I am no longer afraid that it will happen to me again. "


Your choice...

First, the therapist will ask you to tell him what happened to you, and to block the narrative on "the image" that is the hardest to look at for you. Then both of you will find a way so that you do not feel as badly each time you think about these difficult things. It works like this: while you focus on "the image in your mind", what it makes you think and what it makes you feel in the present, the therapist will ask you to do, at the same time, another thing that has nothing to do with it. This will be one of three things:

* or you follow his fingers with your eyes as he makes them come and go before your eyes;

* or you tap into the hands of the therapist (or it is he who types in yours;

* or you hold `` buzzers in each hand

Regularly, the therapist will ask you what you notice and what changes. It can be images, thoughts, emotions, but also physical sensations: tensions, pain. Sometimes things appear that you do not want to talk about or are afraid to say. Do not worry, you do not have to. The therapy will continue until you are no longer affected at all by memories of the painful experience you have experienced.

My brain keeps on working after the EMDR session...

Do not be surprised if you think more than usual about this (or these) painful experiences or things related to these experiences during the time you are in therapy: the mechanism of your brain's information processing activated, and this mechanism does not stop when you leave the therapist's office. You may have a little anxiety or a little nervousness; fortunately, it disappears on average within three days of a therapy session. And it is also possible that you do not experience anything like it.

Damian, 13:

"When I started eye movements, immediately, lots of stuff arrived: images, ideas, feelings. Sometimes it was irrelevant. There were lots of things going on. But the therapist guides you very well: when you stop the pats or the movements of eyes, you just say what you feel, what changes or what passes you by the head. At first I thought you had to stay on the first image or make it come back, but there is no need to control or stay on something. That's why it's really a therapy apart. It goes on by itself. You just have to have the guts to focus on yourself. That's all. "


Kelly, 15:

I thought to myself: too weird, this thing!  

"The first time was really difficult because I did not know what to expect. We explained some stuff to you at the start, but it was still a bit vague. I said to myself: too weird, this thing! Oh, and then good! But in any case, it will not help me. 

I was also very afraid of being obliged to talk to someone about what had happened to me because I had never told anyone before. The first step is to learn to trust your therapist and try to be comfortable. That way you can concentrate and the therapy works better. EMDR is very different from so-called speech therapies, because talking, it helps you on one side, but what you have experienced is no less painful. The good thing about this therapy is that we are working on its bad memories, and it really helps to move forward. I did not need to talk much during the therapy, and it suited me. I was treated what happened to me, little by little, until everything was settled. It was really hard to concentrate on a memory I had always tried to avoid. But we start to think differently and as the painful feelings change and disappear, I was less and less afraid, I felt less and less tense and guilty. Today, I can think about it , but it doesn't disturb me anymore! "



You can ask any questions you want to your therapist, it will be his/her pleasure to answer them all.


You came here because something serious happened to you that made you suffer. Maybe it was a car accident or a fire or someone who made fun of you or even who hurt you or something serious. It may have happened once or maybe it went on for a long time, months or even years. When we see such serious things, sometimes we feel quite weird inside, and sometimes we see what happened, like a film that passes and goes back into your head. Perhaps because of that, you have no taste for anything and you may also have trouble sleeping or you get angry or you have difficulties to concentrate.

 For many children, it's weird not to be like before sudenly. But it is because of what they have lived, and the terrible and sad things that remain in their heads. Fortunately, there is something that can help you quickly, and that's called EMDR.

 Quickly done and well done

EMDR is a therapy that works very well for children like you. To do EMDR, you go see someone called a psychotherapist (or a therapist, it's the same thing). A therapist is a gentleman or a lady who is there to help you get well again. EMDR works very well. There are times when it works faster than others. If this ugly thing has happened to you only once, you will heal faster than other boys and girls who have had nasty things for a long time, that's understandable. But even here, EMDR can really help. When they did EMDR, many kids say they found it fun.

                                     Tim (11 years old):

``I feel much better. I sleep well. I'm happy, I want to do things now. I liked the thing to move your eyes. It was funny.``



What happens during the therapy? First, the therapist will ask you to tell him what happened to you and tell him the image of when you feel the worst when you think about it. He may also ask you to draw it.

Then, both of you, you'll find a way to make you feel worse that way every time you think about these tough things. It works like this: you focus on "the image in your head" (or on your drawing), on what it makes you think and what it makes you feel. And at the same time, you're going to do something completely different. The therapist will choose one of three ways:

 *You follow the therapist`s fingers with your eyes, while he makes them come and go before your face;

 * or you hold buzzers in each hand. It tickles!

 * or you tap into the hands of the therapist with your hands (or it is he who taps in yours).

 Sophie (9 years):

"The first time, I wondered if it would help me. But the second time, I was sure that yes, because I felt good, quiet. I'm not afraid of doing things the way I used to, and I'm really happy now. "


How do you feel right now?

From time to time, the therapist will ask you, "What do you feel now? "Or" What do you think? Sometimes you'll see pictures of what happened. Or suddenly, you're going to tell yourself something, like for example it was your fault. Perhaps you will feel sad, you will be afraid, or you will be angry. Or you will notice new things in your body, like the throat that scratches you, or stomach ache, and you will tell the therapist. And when there is nothing more that will bother you, you will say to him: "Nothing." The therapy will continue until you can see "the image in your head" (or the drawing) and it will do nothing to you. Until it hurts you. That's what we're looking for. The problems you had when coming here the first time will have become very small, or they will have completely disappeared.

 Jamie (5 years old):

"When you clap your hands, it looks like it's flying off." It is as if we were doing 'abracadabra', and it flies away from the head in tiny pieces. And it never comes back.