Calgary EMDR Therapy Trauma Anxiety Depression

Memory Processing for Peace of Mind & Freedom from the Past

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Calgary EMDR Therapy for Trauma Anxiety Depression

Need to Get Over Past Experiences?

MICHELLE recovered from cancer, but remains afraid it will return at anytime. It’s affecting her quality of life.

RYAN was abused as a kid. It still haunts him and he’s noticing how angry he gets. He has started drinking more than usual.

JENNA just received the divorce papers. Her self-esteem has hit rock bottom. She wonders how she will ever heal.

ALEX was involved in a car accident and gets retriggered every time he passes through an intersection.

DAVE served overseas in the military and since he’s returned he can’t sleep. He can’t get over some of what he saw.

EMDR Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro, Ph.D. and is a specialized therapeutic method that helps in memory processing and moving through painful experiences. It uses eye movements to assist the parts of the brain (such as the hippocampus) to help transform traumatic memories such as accidents, abuse, violence, emotional pain, grief and disasters.

EMDR is a specialized form of psychotherapy that has little talking and mostly focusses on processing the traumatic memory where the therapists guides the client through a transformative process until the trauma lessens in intensity.

The bilateral side-to-side movements of the eyes have been found to assist the brain in processing memories. One theory relates it to what happens with rapid-eye movement sleep when we are dreaming and often processing events that have taken place in the day.

EMDR has official recognition. For example, EMDR is approved by the US Department of Defense and the American Psychiatric Association as an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.


When memories keep replaying themselves over and over in our minds they are stuck and not processing through to completion. EMDR can help to stop that cycle and bring peace to the mind.

Here at Solutions for Life Calgary, we use EMDR to help neutralize the painful memories in a way that can help you move on. Pain can be transformed toward more peacefulness and renewed energy to take on life again.

We will listen to your story and how it’s affecting you. It can be a huge relief to talk with someone who isn’t going to judged you and who will patiently guide you through the process until you find greater peace.


EMDR is the most powerful and integrative intervention I have learned in the past five years.”
– John C. Norcross, Ph.D., University of Scranton

The speed at which change occurs during EMDR contradicts the traditional notion of time as essential for psychological healing. Shapiro has integrated elements from many different schools of psychotherapy into her protocols, making EMDR applicable to a variety of clinical populations and accessible to clinicians from different orientations.”
– Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine

EMDR quickly opens new windows on reality, allowing people to see solutions within themselves that they never knew were there. And it’s a therapy where the client is very much in charge, which can be particularly meaningful when people are recovering from having their power taken away by abuse and violation.”
– Laura S. Brown, Ph.D.

EMDR assists survivors in the immediate aftermath of violent trauma by breaking through the walls of denial, shock, grief and anger. Ideal for those who have been unable to forget past traumatic life events, as it allow for a rapid processing of even deeply rooted memories, giving individuals back control of their lives and their emotions.”
– Dusty Bowencamp, RN CTR, Disaster Mental Health, American Red Cross

Question: Is all EMDR the same?

Just like with anything else, the tool is only as good as the person using it. To get the best results with EMDR, it is best to work with a therapist who has gone through additional training and supervision, along with years of experience, especially when treating complex issues.

EMDR does not work with everyone the same way, so being with an experienced professional can go a long way to helping resolve the issues you are dealing with. Further, there may be additional methods that could prove helpful where EMDR may not offer a complete solution. As such, a multifaceted or holistic approach can prove highly beneficial for many clients.

Calgary EMDR Therapy, Trauma PTSD Counselling

Want to Talk? We’re here to help. Here at Solutions for Life Calgary, we help people heal.

Dr. Michael Haggstrom is very experienced in the use of EMDR. Further, through additional training in methods such as Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Accelerated Resolution Therapy, he provides an holistic and effective approach to trauma, anxiety and depression recovery. He says,

“My greatest joy in life is seeing clients who suffered from so much, finally find the peace they deserve. I know what it’s like. I’ve been there too.”

Want to know more?

Contact Dr. Michael below

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Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): Evaluation of controlled PTSD research. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. Francine Shapiro. Elsevier. September 1996.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and the Anxiety Disorders: Clinical and Research Implications of an Integrated Psychotherapy Treatment. Shapiro, F. (1999). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): Clinical and research implications of an integrated psychotherapy treatment. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Volume 13, Issue 6, November–December 1999, Page 621

An investigation of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms of Vietnam combat veterans. James A. Jensen. Behavior Therapy. Elsevier. Spring 1994

Shapiro, F. (1989). Efficacy of the eye movement desensitization procedure in the treatment of traumatic memories. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2, 199-223.



  1. Alex March 17, 2017 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    I had EMDR therapy for anxiety and trauma. I was skeptical at first but after a few sessions I felt relief. After a year the peace is still there. It was the best thing I ever did! I’ve tried to tell a friend about it, but she doesn’t seem interested. Maybe it’s not for everyone. I hate seeing her suffer though. Her boyfriend ended their relationship in a really bad way and she’s depressed all the time. I think EMDR could help her heal. How effective is it for what she’s going through?

    • CalgaryCounsellors March 19, 2017 at 10:57 pm - Reply

      Hello Alex, I’m happy that you found EMDR to be so helpful and that the results have lasted. We see that all the time with the EMDR trauma memory processing method. As for your friend, it’s hard to see someone suffering needlessly. Perhaps what she most needs right now is just a friend who can listen to her. Be that friend for her. EMDR can of course help to shorten the time she would need to heal and if you notice that she’s still hurting in a few weeks or months, then suggest professional help again. However, right now she may mostly need your friendship. Reach out to her. Listen to her and also get her out with others to have some fun. Isolation may only serve to accentuate her pain. You have a great heart Alex. All the best! – Michael

  2. Alisha April 2, 2017 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    I was abused online and it still affects me. Three girls sent mean messages for months telling me I should die and they photoshopped a fake picture of me that ruined my reputation. It was sent to kids at school. I lost my friends. I’m adult now. I struggle to trust. I walk with my head down. A guy is wanting to date me. He seems nice but I’m afraid.
    How can I heal and trust? Is what happened to me trauma? Can EMDR therapy help me?

    • CalgaryCounsellors April 3, 2017 at 3:19 pm - Reply

      What you experienced Alisha is abuse and must have been very traumatic. I’m sorry you went through that.
      Yes, I believe that EMDR therapy can help you. If you don’t find a way to put the trauma behind you, you will always be haunted by it and it will continue to prevent you from thriving. You did not deserve the treatment from these girls and the other kids at school. EMDR can be an effective method to help your mind and body no longer carry the effects of the trauma you experienced.
      So many children and teenagers experience bullying of all kinds. I have worked with many clients who struggled like you did. They often struggled alone. It will do you good to find a therapist you connect well with, someone who is competent and compassionate. You don’t need to be alone anymore in how you feel.
      Don’t be surprised if anger surfaces during therapy. Often during the traumatic experiences, our anger impulses get suppressed because we feel we had to submit to the abuse as a means to survive, to not get hurt even worse. It’s okay to have anger toward what happened to you. It will help you move from being a victim, to being a survivor and finally to someone who can thrive and let it all go. Your therapist will guide you through the process of healing.
      I wish you well Alisha. Remember to be kind to yourself as you seek ways to heal. You are worthy of walking tall. Best!! – Michael

  3. john June 15, 2017 at 8:21 am - Reply

    My daughter suffered the loss of a grand parent and a much loved Aunt at the age of 14. Earlier at the age of 3 another aunt committed suicide. This lead to years of turmoil. At age 1x she was diagnosed with boarderline personality disorder. She has been in DBT for 18 months. There has been progress, but not a lot. Would EDMR help?

    • CalgaryCounsellors June 16, 2017 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Hello John,
      I am sorry to hear of how much your daughter has struggled. EMDR may be able to help. I’d suggest getting in to see someone who is very experienced and well trained in trauma and PTSD, along with borderline personality disorder. DBT is a very good treatment model but can take a lifetime to apply and learn, so patience is required. There is no quick fix for BPD. Your daughter will need lots of help, love and support for a very long time.
      It may also be needful to look at attachment history and attachment trauma for her as the multiple losses of loved ones can be a more complex type of trauma since it involves bonding.
      I wish you and your family well.
      Most sincerely,
      Michael, EMDR Therapist Calgary

  4. Deb Gunther July 24, 2017 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    My daughter is anxiety ridden, and heights is one fear. Someone did emdr in minutes and she was cured. I’m skeptical that it was real ended, can it be that fast? If so, I’m going to seek this therapy to deal with childhood sexual abuse, it’s affecting everything lately and there are things I don’t remember, I just wake up mid sleep with a feeling of dread, that someone’s going to come in. Will it help?

    • CalgaryCounsellors July 26, 2017 at 10:46 am - Reply

      Hello Deb,
      I’m happy to hear about your daughter. Yes, EMDR can be that fast.
      It will depend on how good the therapist is as well and also what is being treated. Not every issue will be dealt with that fast and also EMDR won’t resolve every issue on its own. Sometimes you may need other forms of therapy to complement the EMDR process.
      You are experiencing the startle response from trauma that can remain very long after the initial trauma. Your mind and body have not yet registered that you are safe today, so together they retain a survival mechanism to keep you on edge in trying to prevent you from getting hurt again. It’s a primitive side of the brain where talk therapy alone is often very limited and not as effective at resolving. Methods like EMDR, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Accelerated Resolution Therapy have proven to get better results.
      I wish you well as you explore this kind of therapy for yourself and see what it can do to help put the past where it belongs… in the past.
      Best to you!
      Michael Haggstrom, EMDR Therapist Calgary

  5. Melissa November 16, 2017 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Hello Doctor Michael,
    I heard that a new method that also uses eye movements called Accelerated Resolution Therapy ART is having even better results than EMDR. Have you heard of it? I did EMDR years ago and I found it effective but my body still gets some tension around the triggers for the trauma I processed with EMDR. Do you think something like ART would help with that part? Or, do you know of another therapy that can also help?

    • CalgaryCounsellors November 18, 2017 at 6:38 pm - Reply

      Hello Melissa,
      EMDR can indeed be a powerful method that helps the brain heal from past traumatic experiences. I think you are right in also wanting to explore Accelerated Resolution Therapy, ART.
      I too heard amazing stories of how effective it was. So, I got trained in ART as well to add to my own toolkit as a therapist. EMDR, ART and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy are all powerful methods to help heal trauma at its root source.
      WHAT I HAVE FOUND is that ART has some advantages over EMDR. For example, ART focuses right away with first getting rid of the negative physical/emotional sensations that remain from past trauma, without needing to talk much about what happened. Further it is very focused on only one scene at a time, not on the entire trauma.
      WHERE TALK THERAPY can often re-traumatize the client, these three methods: EMDR, ART and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy help clients to only focus on a small part of the trauma at a time and process out all of the negative aspects of the trauma at a very deep level (such as the negative images, emotions, physical sensations, smells and sounds) until they become neutral, and without needing to talk about every single detail of what happened.
      WHAT I LIKE ABOUT ART is that it also uses a method called “Voluntary Image Replacement”, which not only seeks to bring the negative memories to neutral, but engages the brain’s creative centres to recreate a different narrative with positive images, that in effect replaces the past trauma. These new positive images surface naturally once the negative has been resolved.
      FOR EXAMPLE, I worked with someone from the military who couldn’t get the violent memory of his closest friend’s death out of his mind. With ART he was able to bring the trauma to neutral, then he replaced it organically with a positive new scene of his friend laughing and joking with him over beers. This client’s wife told me he hadn’t laughed in over 10 years since the trauma and that after this session he was laughing all over again just like he used to. I saw the client for a follow up three months after and there was no recurrence of any negative triggers. He said, “I finally feel free and I got the good memories of my best friend back”.
      IN THE END, I’d like to suggest that you follow your intuition. Only you can decide if a method is right for you.
      HEALING from past pain is a very personal journey. I don’t think there is any one way to heal. Sometimes we may also need to use many different means to heal. Not everyone’s journey is the same.
      I wish you well Melissa in your healing.
      Dr Michael Haggstrom, Calgary EMDR Therapy, ART Accelerated Resolution Therapy & Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

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