Virtuous Circle Counselling


EMDR Therapy Calgary

What is EMDR Therapy?

EMDR (eye movement and desensitization and reprocessing therapy) was a treatment developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in California in 1987 that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. All forms of trauma can be addressed through EMDR therapy treatment in Calgary, including: 

  • physical, 
  • sexual, and emotional abuse; 
  • military combat; 
  • natural disasters; 
  • serious accidents; 
  • witnessing or experiencing violence or death; 
  • neglect or abandonment; and 
  • bullying.

Such traumas can also include other stressors that have an emotional impact, such as major life changes, chronic medical illnesses, or financial problems. 

The idea behind EMDR therapy is that the information from past experiences is stored in the brain, but these memories are not necessarily accurate or complete.When a person recalls a traumatic experience, they come up with their own story to explain what happened. This story (or “schema”) is then linked to emotions that are bound to the traumatic event. Even if the schemas aren’t completely accurate, they are still very powerful. EMDR works by getting rid of the negative emotions attached to the stories you tell yourself about past traumatic experiences and enabling you to recall them.

Trauma is stored in the short-term memory, but EMDR assists the patient with visualizing and processing the traumatic memories to make them long-term memories again. The eyes help to visualize and process in the brain, EMDR treatment is based on the key role of the eyes in helping the brain visualize and process information. 

During treatment, a patient will be asked by their EMDR therapist to recall distressing images from their past, while receiving feedback from a therapist in the form of side-to-side eye movements. As the EMDR therapy Calgary begins to work, and traumatic events are processed from short-term memories to long-term memories, the brain begins to “heal”.

How does EMDR Therapy in Calgary work?

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is a highly effective psychotherapy treatment for trauma. EMDR uses a specific set of eight eye movement patterns, together with other sensory and association strategies, to process thoughts and feelings around traumatic experiences.  

EMDR therapy activates the clients natural adaptive information processing system, capitalizing on the client’s ability to heal and process information naturally. The goal is to remove the disturbing elements that remained in the mind after the incident and produce new adaptive beliefs and effective behaviours. 

The following steps can be expected during a typical treatment:

  • A therapist guides the patient to recall a traumatic event;
  • The patient focuses their attention on the disturbing memory; 
  • The patient is then guided towards a positive belief;
  • The positive belief is linked with a positive memory and traumatic related stress is reduced.

The treatment is based on the neuroscientific observations that the brain processes traumatic images differently than normal memories. The rapid eye movements along with hearing positive statements helps to process traumatic memories rapidly and effectively. After successful processing, positive emotions are integrated into memory instead of fear or anger.

Who Can Benefit From EMDR Therapy in Calgary?

An EMDR therapy session can feel like a roller coaster. The process requires you to retrace an upsetting or traumatic experience and relive it. At times it’s exhausting but also cathartic. You also have the opportunity to reflect on any disturbing images or feelings that come up.

When it comes to people who have experienced shocking or violent events, such as sexual assault, war, abuse or natural disasters, they may be left with the effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Symptoms of PTSD may include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety or depression. EMDR therapy is thought to be more effective than many other treatments for those afflicted with PTSD.

EMDR therapy in Calgary is not only for those diagnosed with PTSD. Brain imaging studies have shown that this treatment can be as effective as drugs in easing anxiety and reducing the severity of clinical depression for many sufferers.The following emotions can be treated with EMDR therapy as well: 

  • guilt, 
  • sadness, 
  • anger
  • grief, and shame. 

Treatment with EMDR therapy may reduce these experiences from unwanted memories and help those afflicted live a more enjoyable life. 

The therapy also helps in cultivating positive emotions by focusing on current or recent pleasant and comforting memories.EMDR can assist people living with the effects of stress, trauma, and psychological distress. As past emotions, feelings and experiences are processed, the afflicted person can begin to build the present-day life that they want. 



Yes, you can recover. You can get relief from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and trauma. But this isn’t a magic bullet. You have to work hard and keep working at your recovery. However in 95% of cases, clients experience lasting relief from symptoms if they stay in treatment and follow the recovery program that is right for them.

EMDR therapy is intended to be a short-term treatment. Most people begin to notice they feel better in a single EMDR session, but it can take weeks or months to fully recover.

Yes! EMDR therapy can be done remotely online, over the phone, or face-to-face.

EMDR therapy is a method designed to treat trauma. While we can’t say for certain that it’s harmless, there are several hours of research that you might want to look into as well as anecdotal evidence from people who have participated in the procedure. If, after reading this, you feel like you want to get in touch with a professional therapist or counselor, EMDR therapy may be a good choice for discussion.

 An EMDR therapist should be trained to a minimum of an advanced practice degree in a mental health field. In order to become certified in EMDR, you must have a degree. This can be a social work degree, a degree in psychology, a degree in psychiatry, etc.

Book Your Appointment Online

We are currently accepting new clients however being a good fit is everything in a therapeutic alliance. When you’re ready, please contact us for a free 30-minute phone consultation to see if we match your needs and goals.

We at Virtuous Circle Counselling acknowledge Moh’kinstsis, the lands where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, in what we currently call Calgary. We acknowledge that we are visitors on Moh’kinsstis and acknowledge the Blackfoot are those who named this area as Moh’kinsstis. In the spirit of Truth and Reconciliation, we recognize the ancestral territories, cultures, and oral practices of the Blackfoot people, the Îyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Dene people of the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.