Hi, I'm Vern. If you've been looking for an EMDR therapist near you, you've come to the right place. I offer Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR therapy in Winnipeg to treat trauma and PTSD, phobias, anxiety, and more.
We here at Empower Counselling Services Winnipeg are so honoured you've stopped by today to learn about us and our services. Feel free to take some time to look around, read about us and our services, and then let us know if you have any questions.
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What is EMDR Therapy?
As an integrative psychotherapy approach, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing has been extensively researched, and proven effective for treating trauma and PTSD, phobias, anxiety, mental health, and much more. Through standardized protocols, this therapy incorporates elements from different mental health treatment approaches.
In the words of Tal Croitoru, "In EMDR, we do not provide tools to deal with the problem, but rather remove the problem. When the problem is removed, the symptoms cease to exist."
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How Does this Therapy Work?
It's an integrative psychotherapy, which means it takes different aspects from various psychotherapy approaches.
Therapists use eye movements to facilitate the bilateral stimulation (BLS). It's believed that these eye movements mimic the period of sleep referred to as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep cycle, and this portion of sleep is frequently considered to be the time when the human brain processes recent events in a person’s life. This includes experiences the person had during the preceding day.
The BLS seems to help the brain reprocess the trapped memories in such a way that normal information-processing is resumed. Therapists often use this therapy to help clients uncover and process beliefs that developed as the result of the trauma. For a more detailed explanation please visit EMDR Institute, Inc.
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What Is Bilateral Stimulation (BLS)?
The goal with the BLS is to repeatedly activate opposite sides of the brain. A therapist might use a light-bar, move their hand/fingers back and forth for you to follow with your eyes, with your permission tap your hands or knees alternately, the butterfly hug, or use sound during the reprocessing phase.
Each of these BLS options have their benefits. You will need to discuss with your therapist what the best option will be for you.
Eye movements are believed to be the most effective form of BLS, but the eye movements may not be an option for every client. The following are examples of what may make the eye movements challenging:
◻️ Having had a concussion
◻️ Other mental or physical challenges
◻️ Struggling with multi-tasking
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Importance of Titration for Trauma and PTSD Treatment
One of the frequently overlooked aspects to trauma treatment is the importance of slowing down, or titration. Arielle Schartz, PhD, "Titration refers to a process of experiencing small amounts of distress at a time with a goal to discharge the tension."
EMDR is a highly effective therapy treatment in part because titration is closely observed to reduce the risk of overwhelm and flooding.
We believe titration to be a frequently overlooked but an absolutely essential part in any trauma work. We highly recommend you read our blog The Importance of Titration for Trauma Healing in Winnipeg where we go into more details about titration for trauma healing.
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8 Phases of EMDR Therapy
There is more to this therapy than just the stuff about eye movements. That's phase 4, the reprocessing phase. The other phases are just as important but are sometimes overlooked as not being as important or as not being fully part of the therapy.
Phase 1: History and Treatment Planning
This phase often takes between 1 and 2 sessions, but can also take longer. This phase is important because a clear understanding about what led to and maintains these problems reduces the risk of your therapist making incorrect assumptions about you. Strong history taking and treatment planning is crucial to achieve optimal therapy outcomes.
Phase 2: Preparation
This phase often takes between 1 and 4 sessions. If there is complex trauma, this phase may take longer.
During this phase your therapist will explain the theory, how it works, how this therapy is done, and what you might anticipate during and after treatment.
The therapist will also teach you a variety of calming and relaxation techniques that you can use in the face of emotional disturbances that may arise during or after a session.
Phase 3: Assessment
During this phase, you and your EMDR therapist will identify and clarify the target and set things up in preparation for reprocessing (phase 4).
A target is a disturbance that you are experiencing, which could be an intrusive memory, a sound, smell, flashbacks, nightmares, etc.
Phase 4: Desensitization
During this phase your therapist will lead you through sets of bilateral stimulation (through eye movements, tapping, or sounds) until the disturbance goes down. Normally the goal is for any disturbance to go town to zero.
Phase 5: Installation
The goal during this phase is to increase and deepen your positive belief. Your positive belief will replace the original negative belief you held about yourself prior to treatment. For example, if your negative belief was "I am unlovable" and you would like your positive belief about yourself to be "I am lovable", during phase 5 your EMDR therapist will focus on deepening this positive belief.
Phase 6: Body Scan
During this phase your EMDR therapist will ask you to bring to mind the original target and see whether any residual tension is noticed in your body. Anything that is noticed will then be reprocessed. Reprocessing is considered incomplete until you can bring up the original target without feeling tension in your body.
Phase 7: Closure
This phase is to ensure each session is closed properly. Closure includes:
- Proper closure for each session aims to help you feel better at the end of each session than you did at the beginning
- A briefing on what you may anticipate between sessions, e.g. that the processing may continue between sessions
Phase 8: Reevaluation
This phase is used to open each session. Reevaluation serves to determine the progress and success of treatment over time.
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Is EMDR Recognized?
The American Psychological Association, Veterans Affairs Canada, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the American Psychiatric Association, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs/Dept. of Defense, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, the World Health Organization, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence are among many national and international organizations that recognize EMDR therapy as an effective treatment. More specific information on treatment guidelines can be found on EMDRIA's page.
How this Therapy Differs From Other Therapies
The main differences from other therapies such as talk-therapy include:
◻️ Does not require people to talk in detail about the distressing issue(s)
◻️ Does not require clients to complete homework between sessions
◻️ Rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviours resulting from the distressing issue(s), EMDR therapy allows the brain to fully heal from and clear the traumatic memories and body associations and resume its natural healing processes
◻️ It's designed to resolve unprocessed traumatic memories in the brain and other parts of the body where the trauma has been stored
◻️ For many clients, EMDR therapy can be successful for treating trauma and PTSD in fewer sessions than other psychotherapies
How EMDR Therapy Affects the Brain
The human brain has a natural way to recover and heal from traumatic events and memories. This process involves communication between the hippocampus (responsible for assisting in learning, including memories about danger and safety), the prefrontal cortex (responsible for analyzing and controlling human behaviour and emotion), and the amygdala (the human alarm system for danger and stressful events). In many cases, traumatic experiences can be managed and resolved spontaneously and without professional help. However, traumatic memories are sometimes not processed without professional help from a trained psychotherapist.
Stress-responses are part of our natural fight, flight, freeze, and fawn instincts. When distresses from disturbing events remain unprocessed in the body, the upsetting thoughts, emotions, and images may create an overwhelming feeling and/or sensation of being back in that moment of the traumatic event, or of being frozen in time. In other words, a person may feel like the event happened quite recently and the body is constantly scanning for danger to ensure the person is alert and prepared to avoid any future dangers. Though not always helpful, this is the body's natural way of attempting to make sense of and process the traumatic experience, and protect you from future traumas.
This therapy helps the brain process these body-memories and allows normal healing to resume once again. The experience is still remembered as clearly as before, but the fight, flight, freeze, and/or fawn response and the disturbance from the original event is resolved and cleared.
Is EMDR Therapy in Winnipeg Right for You?
Have you experienced an event that causes you distress?
Do you experience distressing emotions that appear to you, and perhaps to others, to be excessive given the current situation?
Do you tend to be highly reactive to certain triggers?
Is there one or more dysfunctional belief that you believe about yourself that on an intellectual level you know is not true?
If any of the above resonates with you then you may be a good candidate for nearby EMDR therapy in Winnipeg.