EMDR therapy is a tool that psychologists in Calgary and other trained providers use to help you heal from past trauma. This can include things like being in a car accident, experiencing violence or surviving a natural disaster. Events like these are often deeply disturbing and impact a person’s sense of control over a situation.
Trauma can also be caused by smaller events or experiences, often referred to as ‘small t’ trauma, that surpasses your ability to cope with a situation. These can include divorce, financial difficulties or ongoing conflict with a loved one.
EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, therapy is well researched and endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the United States Department of Veteran Affairs.
EMDR therapy can quickly improve symptoms related to trauma, including flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of people or places that are triggering, emotional numbness, and irritability or anger.
If you’re considering EMDR therapy in Calgary to help you heal from past trauma, it’s important to know what to expect during your course of treatment. This way you can come prepared and ready to work with your therapist.
How To Prepare For Your EMDR Therapy In Calgary
Developing a Treatment Plan
EMDR therapy is broken down into eight phases that occur throughout your treatment. In the first session, you can expect to go over your history with your therapist. This is important for both you and your therapist to understand your exposure to previous traumatic events and how you have responded emotionally to these experiences.
Gathering a detailed history from you may take longer than a single session, depending on the depth and complexity of your past. Once this is complete your therapist will put together a treatment plan and work with you to decide what traumatic events to focus on first during an EMDR treatment session.
Your treatment plan will also include new skills and behaviors that will be helpful for you moving forward and that will be included as part of your EMDR therapy session. During the process, you’re likely to gain insight into previous traumatic events and through the alleviation of your symptoms, adopt these new positive behaviors in response.
Experiencing an EMDR Therapy Session
Before an EMDR therapy session, your therapist will go over different skills and coping mechanisms to handle distressing memories and associated feelings that may come up during treatment. This can be things like visualization and other stress-reduction techniques. These tools can also be used between EMDR therapy sessions if you’re experiencing symptoms.
An EMDR therapy session is relatively straightforward and easy to follow. Your therapist will begin by asking you to recall one of the traumatic memories that you’ve previously discussed and then start bilateral stimulation.
While this might sound intimidating, it’s a very simple process where your therapist will either have you follow their finger with your eyes or provide you with a small device to hold in each hand. The device will produce a small vibration or tap that alternates between the left and right-hand sides.
The goals of a therapy session are to achieve fast results and healing of your traumatic memory. This is accomplished by focusing on three things during each session: a vivid image related directly to the memory, a false belief about yourself and related bodily sensations and emotions.
These negative images and false beliefs are replaced with positive associations that you and your therapist will have developed during your initial preparations.
Healing from Traumatic Memories
After a memory has been recalled using this technique, your therapist will ask you to let your mind go blank and see what thoughts, images, emotions, and bodily sensations arise. Depending on your response, your therapist may choose another image to work on or end the session for the day.
In follow up sessions, you’ll be asked about your traumatic memories and how you’re responding to them.
Once you’ve gone through the EMDR therapy process with a specific memory and are no longer experiencing significant emotional distress, your therapist will ask you to keep a log of any memories or feelings that may come up.
This is done to provide closure and to remind yourself of the techniques and coping mechanisms you developed during the earlier phases of your EMDR therapy.
EMDR therapy is a powerful tool to help you heal from previous trauma. Members of the Supporting Wellness team are trained to provide EMDR therapy at our offices, and we’re committed to working with you on your healing journey. Contact us today to book an appointment for EMDR therapy in Calgary.