EMDR Therapy: A Proven Approach for Resolving Distressing or Traumatic Events
A Certifed EMDR Therapist in Winnipeg with Advanced Training in EMDR
What is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)?
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a proven approach to therapy for people with a wide range of emotional and psychological problems that are related to distressing or traumatic experiences. It is frequently used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
EMDR was developed in the late 1980’s and has been extensively researched showing positive results. It has helped millions of people heal all over the world.
EMDR Therapy is an Approved Therapy By Several National and International Organizations
EMDR is an approved treatment by American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as other international health agencies. EMDR is also the therapy of choice for problems related to trauma in Europe.
EMDR is Based on the Latest Brain Research on How Your Brain Processes and Heals Trauma and Distressing Events
EMDR is based on the premise that people’s problems and their symptoms are the result of the incomplete processing of disturbing or traumatic experiences in the brain.
When you become severely upset due to a distressing incident, the brain has difficulty in processing your emotions. As a result, when you are reminded of that event in the future you will often re-experience the symptoms you had at the time of the original event. For example, if you often felt rejected as a child, you may be highly sensitive to rejection as an adult. Or, if you often felt unloved and not good enough as a child, you may be highly sensitive to these feelings as an adult.
In other words, the brain can’t tell the difference between the original event and the memory of the event. The emotional experience is the same. As you may know from your experience, this can dramatically interfere in your life causing a great deal of pain and turmoil.
EMDR helps the brain reprocess the emotional memory of the event, thus alleviating the troublesome symptoms. When you are reminded of the event in the future, it will be less upsetting, or not at all upsetting.
“When I started therapy with Douglas, I was suicidal. I was not able to drive my vehicle for a block without getting lost in a familiar neighborhood that I had always been in or worked in. I was not sleeping. I was doing things and trying to function as normally as I could. I felt I was losing control of everything, my job, my children, my marriage …everything.”
After I started EMDR sessions, I would feel myself getting lighter and lighter each day. EMDR frees you from circumstances you have been keeping inside of you.
Douglas has been wonderful at teaching me tools. He consciously worked very gently and delicately to get me to accept the type of help that he was able to give and to participate in this help.
I feel that I am able to function now in a world that isn’t always so perfect. I have the tools to manage my anxiety and my depression, without medication, and I am grateful for that.*”
EMDR Therapy is Backed by Extensive Research Showing its Effectiveness
EMDR is backed by research showing its effectiveness. In fact, it is one of the most researched types of therapy in existence today.
What Types of Problems Can Be Successfully Treated with EMDR Therapy?
EMDR has been successfully used to help individuals who have experienced:
- Childhood Abuse (physical, emotional or sexual abuse)
- An accident (motor vehicle accident or other)
- A Natural disaster
- A fire
- An unexpected death; grief that causes ongoing problems
- Ongoing trauma due to working as a first responder – fire-fighter, paramedic, police officer, nurse, coroner or military personnel
- A criminal behavior (been victimized by an assault or robbery)
- Chronic stress
- Anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of any of the above
- Chronic pain including chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
- Birth Trauma
- Trauma related to surgery or other medical treatment
- Generational trauma as seen in First Nations populations
- Personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder
“I met Douglas Hanson for treatment of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) after I had sustained a significant MVA (motor vehicle accident). This accident left me with major pain; physically, mentally and emotionally. Initially, I wondered if Douglas’s therapy would work because it seemed too uncomplicated and straight forward.
I decided to keep an open mind because he had been highly recommended.
When I first started therapy, I was extremely introverted. I found it hard to express myself and could not find my words. I was suffering from depression, disassociation, anxiety, and extreme anger. The nightmares following the accident paled in comparison to how I struggled while awake.
Douglas used EMDR (eye movement desensitizing reprocessing) therapy on me, along with some other exercises, and almost immediately I, my family, and friends saw positive results. It was not an easy process, but the end results were effective. As well, there was always an element of fun to them. I liken my healing to shedding the burden of thick heavy winter clothing and welcoming spring freely and starting with a deep breath of fresh air.
Thank you, Douglas, for all of your help and encouragement without any judgment.*”
What You Can Expect from an EMDR Counselling Session with Me
EMDR therapy begins with 7 initial sessions. If your symptoms are moderate, you may be relieved of them by the end of these sessions.
If your trauma was intense or prolonged, a longer period of therapy may be required. However, even if this is the case, you will experience increasing relief from suffering as the treatment progresses.
I am gentle in my approach.
As part of the EMDR process, I will begin therapy by teaching you calming, self-nurturing and relaxation strategies. This will help build your emotional strength, so you’re better able to handle difficult memories later in therapy. With relaxation strategies in your toolkit, you can navigate the world with more ease.
You will not have to focus on any memory until you feel strong enough to focus on it.
We can move slowly at a pace that suits you. We can begin by focusing on your fear around the memory and only move into the memory itself once you are no longer experiencing fear.
When you feel ready, we will focus attention on an image of the painful incident(s). I will ask you to notice your emotions and body sensations while you think of this image. I will use my fingers for you to follow, tracking your eye movement back and forth facilitating your brain’s natural healing process.
Eventually, through the treatment course, you will be able to think of the event without the disturbing symptoms.
The event will become like a memory hanging on the wall. You will no longer experience an emotional response to it.
I Have Extensive Training in EMDR Therapy in Addition to Traditional Counsellor Training
- Certified in EMDR by EMDRIA, the International Association of EMDR Therapists.
- I have advanced EMDR training for the following problems:
- Complex trauma (resulting from childhood neglect, rejection and/or physical/sexual abuse)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and dissociation,
- Borderline personality and related disorders
- Anxiety disorders, phobias – fear of flying, fear of dentists, social phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Medical problems – somatoform disorders (symptoms with no medical cause), chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia
- Vicarious trauma for first responders and health care professionals
- Intensive care unit trauma as a result of medical treatment.
- Over the past 3 years, I have conducted over 1500 hours of EMDR therapy with over 80 individuals.
- My therapeutic success in treating individuals with these problems has been assessed using psychological measures, (pre and post treatment), the individuals’ reporting, and their in-session clinical response.
- MA in Counselling Psychology from the University of British Columbia
- BA in Psychology from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario
- Diploma in Social Work from Confederation College in Thunder Bay
You can read more about me here.
“At the beginning of EMDR therapy, I felt hopeless and severely depressed. I felt that my life had ground to a halt. I was apathetic about a future where I had no energy or desire to engage with others. I was easily overwhelmed by anything I deemed stressful and that was unpredictable. Anything that required me to be reliable and have a set schedule of responsibilities was insurmountable.
With EMDR I learned basic stress management, calming techniques, and how to compartmentalize negative thoughts. The basic structure of [the EMDR approach] allowed me to safely open up suppressed issues.*”
If you want to find out more about how EMDR can help resolve your distress, contact me for a no-charge, 10-minute phone consult or to book a therapy appointment in my Winnipeg therapy office.