Psychology in Powell River

Dr. Lisa Strickland-Clark

Registered Psychologist


How does it work?

It seems that the mind can heal itself naturally in the same way as the body does. Much of this natural coping mechanism occurs during sleep, particularly during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.  EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) utilizes the natural processes of the mind in order to successfully treat trauma and a wide range of mental health problems.

How does trauma affect the mind?

Most of the time your mind manages new information and experiences without you being aware of it. However, when something out of the ordinary overwhelms you such as a car accident, or repeated violence or abuse in childhood, your natural coping mechanism can become overloaded. This may result in the disturbing experiences remaining frozen or unprocessed in your brain. Such memories are then stored in the brain in a raw and emotional form, rather than in a verbal story mode.  Often the memory itself is long forgotten, but the painful feelings are triggered in the present and appear as anxiety, panic, anger or despair. You repeatedly re-experience the feelings from the trauma as if they were happening now and your  ability to live in the present becomes inhibited. EMDR helps the mind process the memory and file it away in a verbal story form rather than as a raw emotion.  

What happens in the session?

After a thorough assessment, I will ask you specific questions about the memory we are working on. Eye movements, similar to those during REM sleep will be recreated using a range of methods. I will check in with you to see what you are experiencing.  You may experience a variety of thoughts, images and feelings.  As the  processing continues, your memory of the incident loses its painful intensity and simply becomes a neutral memory. Other associated memories may also heal at the same time. This linking of related memories can lead to a dramatic and rapid improvement in many aspects of your life.

Does it work for everyone?

EMDR is extremely effective.  The process is rapid.  Disturbing experiences, if they occur at all, last for a comparatively short period of time. Nevertheless, you need to be willing to experience the strong feelings and disturbing thoughts which sometimes occur during sessions.  At times, after the assessment, I may decide that other forms of therapy would be more suitable and this will be discussed with you and explained.

How long does therapy last?

EMDR can be a brief focused treatment or part of a longer therapy program. EMDR sessions can last 60 to 90 minutes.  Longer, intensive sessions can be also arranged.  

Will I remain in control?

EMDR is not hypnotherapy.  You will remain in control, alert and wide-awake throughout. You can stop the process at any time. I will support and facilitate your own self-healing. Reprocessing is usually experienced as something that happens spontaneously, and new connections and insights are felt to arise quite naturally from within.

What can EMDR be used for?

In addition to its use for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, EMDR has been successfully used to treat:


Panic attacks



Sleep problems

Complicated grief


Pain and phantom limb pain

Self esteem and performance anxiety

Radio Interview Explaining How EMDR Therapy Transforms Traumatic Memories

Francine Shapiro, PhD psychologist and the originator of EMDR therapy, talks about how the therapy works.  The interview is an hour long.