What to Expect During Therapy

As EMDR Therapists, we follow a standardized 8 phase protocol based on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) Model of EMDR Therapy.  These 8 Phases are utilized from the first session, and are repeated throughout the course of therapy.  

The 8 Phases are as follows:

 1.)  History & Treatment Planning  

2.)  Preparation and Stabilization

3.)  Assessment & Target Selection

4.)  De-sensitization and Reprocessing of the Trauma(s)  

5.)  Installation of the Positive Belief  

6.)  Body Scan  

7.)  Closure  

8.)  Re-evaluation.  

Each phase is often re-visited many times throughout the course of therapy.  Phase 4 - De-sensitization and Reprocessing of the Traumas - is where most time is spent after the first three phases have been completed.  Phase 4 is also where most of the healing takes place.  In this phase, bilateral stimulation (eye movements, kinesthetic or auditory stimulation) is utilized to help a person heal from their trauma, as well as the synergistic application of other therapeutic modalities we are trained in.  

While Phase 4 often has one focusing on traumatic memories, bilateral stimulation during this Phase also helps to reduce and soften trauma derived phobias and psychological defense mechanisms.  Put in another way, any fears or guarded defensiveness you may have about doing therapy will be worked on and resolved FIRST before diving in and working on the core traumatic memories that are causing your pain, problematic behaviors and distress.  Once your fears have been adequately addressed, we will then begin helping your brain make sense out of the trauma you experienced.  During this phase, your job is to NOTICE what begins to happen in your mind, body and heart, and not to try to control what your brain and nervous system are doing.  Allowing oneself to just NOTICE instead of resorting to CONTROLLING what begins to occur can be difficult at first, but is an extremely important lesson that you will begin to master during your therapy sessions.  


It is through mindful noticing that all the negative energy associated with the trauma can begin to be released 


The neurobiological changes necessary for the reduction of problematic behaviors and emotions take place in Phase 4.  The bilateral stimulation helps to facilitate the release of trauma once and for all so that whatever has been held in memory for many years or decades will be held no more.  The release takes place in the form of images, memories, thoughts, physical sensations, emotions and body motor responses.  Although gentle, the releases that take place can at times be emotionally intense, so we will always check with you to ensure you can tolerate what may come up.  While meditation, yoga, hypnotherapy and other guided relaxation exercises can be extremely useful in helping calm ourselves, and are especially helpful in between sessions, if you have experience with these modalities, it is important you do not utilize them during our therapy sessions when we are working through and reprocessing your traumatic experiences.  Reason being is because these modalities interfere with the innate healing process that will be activated in session, which we are trying to restore to a "normal" setting for you.  Once your nervous system has released the elements associated with the trauma through mindful noticing, and the trauma has been sufficiently reprocessed or de-sensitized, it will no longer produce the same earth-shaking emotional responses and negative beliefs about yourself, others or the world - it will simply exist as a memory without these elements.  Thus, these past experiences will NO LONGER hold you as an emotional prisoner!  

Once the negativity has been removed and released, we will then install and enhance a Positive Belief about yourself / others / the world.  Whatever negativity is removed needs to be replaced with something positive!  From there, we will check to ensure no disturbances remain in your body, and close the session.  We will then re-evaluate the work we did in subsequent sessions to ensure no other elements have emerged that need to be worked on.  The work that takes place during these 8 Phases is highly focused, particularly in Phase 4, where the most intense focus is required.  Although most sessions will involve one or more of these 8 Phases, there will be sessions where other modalities will be implemented and used to help you reach your goals.  While at times this work can be challenging, it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.  Why?  Because the changes that take place AFTER therapy are the very reasons why you sought therapy with me in the first place!

What to Expect After Therapy

Most people feel very tired, fatigued and exhausted after therapy sessions.  This is completely normal.  We strongly recommend you give yourself the opportunity to rest and sleep after your session.  Many others report feeling emotionally drained after sessions.  Again, this is completely normal.  The first few sessions are often the most difficult, but each subsequent session tends to get easier and easier.  While some people notice changes almost immediately after a session, for others it can take several sessions. One of the first changes to take place for many people is noticing a decrease in unpleasant emotions and not being as emotionally "reactive" in certain situations. This decrease is not something you have to deliberately practice or work hard at to achieve - it is the natural byproduct of having received therapy from me.  Many people also report feeling more calm, light and relaxed.  One's self-confidence and ability to feel stronger in difficult situations increases, as well as feeling more whole, integrated and grounded.  Your mind will quiet and all the rumination and "mile-a-minute-hamster-wheel" sensations will stop completely.  You will feel less stressed, and find yourself being able to handle and tolerate stressful and difficult situations with grace and ease.  You will become LESS reactive, and MORE reflective.  Your self-esteem and self-confidence will increase.  Your sleep will improve.  If you are struggling with impulsive or problematic behaviors (ie: addictive behaviors), the strong, frantic impulses around environmental cues will begin to decrease, and you will notice there is less of a "need" to engage in the problematic behavior.  Urges and impulses will significantly decrease and be easier to manage.  For many, chronic head / neck / shoulder pain begins to diminish, as well as a significant reduction in headaches! Remember, the way trauma can manifest in our bodies is often "tricky" - so many of the physical ailments we experience and struggle with on a day to day basis may be trauma derived.  Once the trauma is reprocessed and healed from, the physical ailments that were once the result of trauma begin to go away.  Any physical ailment that is not associated with trauma will remain unchanged (ie: chronic pain associated from nerve damage due to diabetes).

For those of us who learned to become stoic "statues," EMDR Therapy will naturally begin to correct these rigid trauma derived defense mechanisms so that we begin to feel again.  Yes, that's right.  This therapy will help you FEEL your emotions again.  For those of you thinking "Oh no!  I don't want THAT to happen!  I like being emotionless!", it is important you understand that we were born biologically designed to feel and express a wide range of emotions .....right from birth.

Unfortunately, it is through trauma and unhealthy social conditioning that we learn to inhibit emotional expression that ultimately results in psychological defense mechanisms, otherwise known as holding back from expressing how you REALLY feel. While covering up and hiding how you REALLY feel may help navigate you through difficult circumstances, chronic and prolonged use of such defenses cause great harm to us long term.  Individuals with such profiles will begin to notice that EMDR Therapy softens these defenses.  Some may begin to "panic" after a session when they realize they are feeling their emotions more, feeling emotions they have not felt in a very long time, or that emotions come out easier and are not as easily contained.  It is important to understand these changes are the result of your nervous system RETURNING TO ITS NORMAL FUNCTIONING STATE, and to not be alarmed by these changes, but rather, to learn to embrace them. We will help you with this.

While EMDR Therapy helps correct your nervous system and restore it to its original functioning state, some people experience "roadblocks" along the way to health and well-being.  These "roadblocks" can include an overall worsening of your symptoms BEFORE improvements can be evidenced and felt.  It is still not clear why some people respond to the therapy in this manner.  Regardless, if you begin to experience "roadblocks" and an overall worsening of symptoms after EMDR Therapy sessions, it is important you do NOT stop or run away from therapy, but rather continue with it.  This is because when the innate healing mechanism has been activated inside of you, your brain and nervous system will continue to "expel" all the "wastes" associated from the traumas you have experienced in your life.  These "wastes" are often in the form of negative and unpleasant physical emotions and bodily sensations.  By continuing with therapy, these "wastes" will continue to be expelled until you begin to feel better and are no longer experiencing these negative "roadblocks."  "Wastes" can continue to be expelled in between sessions for many hours or many days, so it is important you "Let your nervous system do what it needs to do" and engage in mindful NOTICING instead of trying to control or stop what is needing to come out.  


By letting out what needs to come out, and trusting that your brain
and nervous system
know what it needs to do,
you will ultimately expedite your healing process


By committing yourself to therapy and following through until your goals are reached, the changes you will experience in the end will be profound and life changing. Many, if not most or all, your troubling symptoms will be GONE, and they will not return.  If you ever experience a strong emotional reaction or problem in the future, it is simply because your brain is telling you there is an another unresolved trauma that needs addressing.  If it is addressed and worked on, the memories, emotions and behaviors associated with it will disappear.  You will feel stronger, happier, "whole" and harbor an inner peace.  You will feel BETTER and be in a much better mood.  

For the first time ever, your mind will be quiet, and your body relaxed and calm in a way you have never experienced before.  The inner turmoil you have lived with your entire life will be extinguished.  Your energy will have changed substantially that you will notice you no longer attract, or are attracted to, the same kinds of people, negative reactions or situations.  You will experience life with greater clarity, and "see" situations in ways you have never seen before.  You will make profoundly deep connections with yourself regarding your life history and current life situation, which in turn will help you understand your relationships with others better, as well as the relationship you will have with yourself.  Fighting, arguing and relationship problems with your spouse / partner will significantly reduce. Problematic behaviors or negative ways of communicating will dissipate, and eventually be transformed.  Addictive behaviors will cease.  Urges and impulses will be extinguished.  Defense mechanisms will be softened.  Mood swings will have abated.  Self-sabotage, self-destruction, and self-harming behaviors will be non-existent.  You will be able to FEEL your emotions, and have greater emotional expression.  Memory loss, unexplained forgetfulness and periods of amnesia will no longer be a problem for you.  And best of all, the traumatic flashbacks, nightmares and other symptoms associated with your trauma will be gone.  You will feel more stable because internally you will be more stable and integrated.

Benefits to Therapy With Us:


  • Significant decrease in emotional pain / anxiety / panic / depression
  • Significant decrease in emotional reactivity to "TRIGGERS"
  • Significant decrease in addictive / problematic behaviors
  • Significant decrease of flashbacks / nightmares
  • Feeling happier
  • Feelings of inner peace / calmness 
  • Having a quiet mind
  • Learning POWERFUL methods to help self-soothe 
  • Increased clarity
  • Deep and profound understanding of yourself
  • Ability to make connections you've NEVER made before
  • Permanent Resolution to many of the problems you have been struggling with!


This is YOU

Are YOU ready to heal and
transform your life?

Call (604) 477 - 7447 (PST)

Email:  info@jasminealexander.ca

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