Sandy Kiaizadeh, MA, Registered Psychotherapist
Toronto Mindful Solutions Clinic

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a is a fairly new, nontraditional type of psychotherapeutic approach that is evidence-based and proven to be effective for the treatment of trauma and many other mental health problems, such as:

  • panic attacks
  • complicated grief
  • disturbing memories
  • phobias
  • pain disorders
  • performance anxiety
  • stress reduction
  • addictions
  • sexual and/or physical abuse
  • body dysmorphic disorders

Negative emotions, feelings and behaviours 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 behaviours and interactions. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people the world over gain relief from many types of psychological stress.

At first glance, EMDR appears to approach psychological issues in an unusual way, since it does not rely on traditional “talk” therapy. The goal of EMDR therapy is to help you process completely the experiences that are causing you problems. ”Processing" does not mean talking about it though. Instead, I will move my fingers back and forth in front of your face and ask you to follow these hand motions with your eyes while you think about a disturbing event. Gradually, I will guide you to shift your thoughts to more pleasant ones. I may also use alternatives to finger/eye movements, such as auditory tones, or having you hold buzzers in your hands.

Before and after each EMDR treatment, I will ask you to rate your level of distress when recalling a particularly disturbing event in your life. Research has shown that EMDR can weaken the effect of negative emotions and make any disturbing memories carry less of a “charge” for you.

In order to assess whether you would be a suitable candidate for EMDR therapy, we would first need to have about 3-4 sessions, during which I will take a detailed history, in an effort to better understand the nature of your difficulties. During these sessions, I will also take the time to explain to you what EMDR is, and give you the opportunity to ask me any questions about it before we begin your EMDR treatment plan.

Typically, EMDR sessions are scheduled for 90 minutes. The kind of difficulties, your life circumstances and the number of previous trauma are factors that will determine the number of total EMDR sessions you will need. While EMDR can be integrated as part of our regular “talk therapy” treatment process, it can also be used as adjunctive therapy with a second therapist, or as a treatment in itself.