Bonnie Mason & Associates Counselling Inc.

Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Therapy, Consultation, Support and Guidance

Adult Trauma EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a procedure developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro in the early 1990's as a treatment for painful and enduring traumatic memories that continue to cause emotional and physiological disturbances. The term "trauma" refers to either a single event or ongoing traumatic events. Traumatic effects include those associated with what is described as small "t" events that have created a negative belief about self or others. Big "T" events are often associated with abuse that again can be a single event or ongoing.

EMDR is often referred to as "dual attention stimulation" because various aspects of the trauma are held within the body and nervous system and the memory needs to be reprocessed. EMDR processing is based on the fact that we have two hemispheres in our brain that process incoming information in fundamentally different ways. Trauma research indicates that trauma can hinder the brains ability to process information. When we experience a trauma we react by flight, fight or freeze which results in the traumatic event becoming "stuck". It then continues to cause emotional and physiological stress throughout our life span. EMDR is a comprehensive integrative psychotherapy as it includes several researched psychotherapies. These can include cognitive behavioural, body-centered, interpersonal, psychodynamic and experiential therapies.

What kind of problems can EMDR help treat?

Scientific research has established EMDR as most effective for post-traumatic stress. The American Psychiatric Association Practice Guideline (2004) has placed EMDR in the category of highest level of effectiveness. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR people can experience the benefits of what once took psychotherapy years to make a difference.

What is a session like?

The procedure involves the client to focus on old memories while guided by a trained psychotherapist certificated in EMDR. EMDR involves attention to three time periods: the past, present, and future. The client focuses their attention on the targeted issue that they want to resolve. They are given the choice of guided eye movements, alternating taps on hands or knees, and/ or alternating auditory stimulation. A typical EMDR session lasts between 60 and 90 minutes to allow for adequate time to relax after the procedure and de-brief as necessary. The therapist will provide the client with relaxation skills that will provide them with a feeling of being in control and empowered.

How long does EMDR take?

The length of treatment varies from person to person given the amount of previous trauma, life circumstances, support system, and internal strengths. One or more sessions are necessary to compile a clinical history and an understanding of the presenting problems. There are times were the therapist may decide that EMDR is not an appropriate treatment approach. Once the therapist and client have agreed that EMDR is appropriate for a specific problem, the actual sessions can begin. It is at this point the therapist will explain the process and follow the standard 8 phase approach.

For more information on EMDR visit:

Psychotherapists in the Practice trained in EMDR:

Bonnie Mason: EMDR for Adults & Children

Teal Maedel: Adult EMDR only

Tia Noble: Adult & Adolescent Trauma

Bonnie creates a warm, validating environment where it is safe to explore life’s darkest corners. She provided me with the tools, strategies and encouragement to thrive, in spite of emotional trauma and physical disability. I am deeply grateful for Bonnie’s insightful guidance, practical support and wisdom. She has improved the quality of my life immensely: I highly recommend her to family and friends.

- R.S., White Rock, BC

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