What is EMDR and how will it benefit my daughter?

What is EMDR and how will it benefit my daughter? I had the opportunity to become trained in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) last summer, and it has been cool to see how effective the approach has been for some of my clients. EMDR uses some type of bilateral stimulation, which is a fancy way of saying both sides of the body are being stimulated.

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The classic stimulus is moving your eyes back and forth from left to right, but it can also be crossing your arms and tapping your;

  • Shoulders

  • Tapping your knees

  • Holding buzzers that buzz in your hands

  • Auditory tones…

While undergoing bilateral stimulation, I guide my clients through a process of remembering a traumatic memory and reprocessing said memory in a more healthy and positive way. Depending on the client, there may be only one memory to process, whereas others will have 10 or more.

While no one knows for sure how EMDR works (there are several theories out there), the research and client feedback continues to prove that it does work. What does “work” even mean, you may ask? That would be a good question.

At its core, EMDR therapy is based on the theory that previous unprocessed traumatic experiences are showing up as symptoms in the present.

The symptoms may be;

  • High anxiety

  • Panic

  • Triggers

  • Feeling overwhelmed

happiness pill program banner

When the previous traumatic experiences are reprocessed, the nervous system no longer responds in an over-reactive way to stimuli in the present. There are a lot of fascinating studies out there that show a remarkable difference in brain activity between before completing EMDR therapy and after if you’d like to see! 

A common response that I hear from clients is that when they think about the previous traumatic memory after completing EMDR.  They say that they no longer have an emotional reaction to it.

An incident or experience that previously resulted in sensations of anxiety or panic is now remembered in a more factual, calm manner. Clients also share that after several EMDR sessions (the number of sessions varies by client and circumstance), they notice that they are less triggered in the present. EMDR is not hypnosis or changing the facts, it’s just helping your brain process a previous experience that it was not able to at that point in time.

EMDR is not the best fit for everyone, and some of my clients prefer more traditional talk therapy over EMDR sessions. There are many paths to better health and wellness, and I am happy to take the client’s lead. I will say, however, that for clients who may not want to express previous traumas verbally, EMDR can be an incredible tool.

If you would like to learn more about EMDR and if it may be a good fit for you, please book a consult call or first session.


This article: “What is EMDR and how will it benefit my daughter?” Written by:  Jessa Tiemstra 


Teen Anxiety: The #1 Thing Teens Are Worried About

The #1 Thing Teens Are Worried About

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The Future. 

Does it fill your teen with excitement and possibility? Does it stress their brain out with worry and uncertainty? 

Many of the teens I work with say to me that the future is the Number 1 thing they worry about. The number 1 thing! More than friendships, more than what’s happening at school, more than ….well everything. How am I going to make money? What do I want to do? Do I take a gap year or go straight to school? What if I make the wrong decision?

Today’s teens are so informed and connected to possibilities that it can spin them into overwhelm so quickly. And if you’ve ever tried to make a decision from the place of emotions only (that chocolate cake looks so yummy and will taste so good and pleasurable)- you might know that it often ends up not being the best outcome (ooooiiii …. I really shouldn’t have had that last piece of chocolate cake). 

I’m joking and not joking- when teens make decisions from that place of fear and worry, they often get stuck, procrastinate, get sick, self-sabotage or just downright avoid.   

The point of this blog is not to alarm you. Instead, I would like to give you nine tools to support you (a parent of a teen), and your teen to welcome the future with a little less worry and a little more tranquility.

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #1: Set small goals
Having goals – things you want to accomplish, change, improve, or just try can be a great way to spark motivation and excitement over fear. Yes, some goals may feel scary or stretchy, like when I decided to leave my non-profit job after 15 years in the industry to pursue my passion to help teen girls build bulletproof mindsets- sssccccarrrryyy! And exciting!

Even the stretchiest biggest goals are made up of a series of smaller goals to get you there. Start by brainstorming goals for yourself (e.g I’d like to run a 5km marathon, I want to raise money for the local animal shelter, I want to make a new friend, etc.) that you’d like to accomplish over the next few months up to 1 year from now. Then identify 2 or maybe 3 goals that feel like small, achievable ones. You might even find some smaller goals hidden within your larger goals (e.g. talking to the person next to me in class next Monday, putting on my running clothes and run/walking for 10 minutes, researching animal shelters in my area, etc.). These are your targets to start taking action on.

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #2: Road map with lots of refueling breaks

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Having a plan can be helpful. Knowing that you have a roadmap to refer to or fall back on can help put your mind at ease. Less in the worry zone- more in the “I’ve got this” zone. You might go off course or choose to ditch your map, but just knowing you have one can be a great tool. If you think you might want to be an engineer and move to another city- great- What would that look like? Who could you talk to? What steps would you need to take to start heading in that direction? 

Plan for breaks along the way. Who knows what life is going to bring, so plan to refuel along the way. Take the time to map out some fun things you see in the roadmap, people you can go to, ways to relax, and so on.  


Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #3: Use the wise mind strategy

A concept in DBT (dialectical behaviour therapy) teaches that you can look at a situation from 3 perspectives.

The first is to look at things from the perspective of your emotional mind…Kind of like tapping into the emotion parts of the brain which is fine tuned for survival, fight/flight/freeze and reactivity. Great for when you need to hide or run from a bear! 

Then you have your reasonable/rational mind…Your ultra logical thinking brain that relies on what has happened in the past to make decisions today; what information you can access, and what logic is telling you. Great for analyzing and calculating the possibility of something occurring. 

Now if you tune into where the emotional mind and reasonable mind overlap, you get the Wise Mind- the part that is aware of your feelings and is able to reason. It’s the sweet spot in your thinking.

Source: 7 cups

Now think about your thoughts of the future – are you considering it solely from your Emotional mind? Your Rational mind? What would happen if you looked at it from your Wise mind? 

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #4: Talk to the experts

There are folks who specialize in helping people sort out options for their future. Career counsellors, guidance counsellors, teen career coaches,  just to name a few. This article has some great tips on where to begin and who to talk to. 

Having a third party person can be helpful in many ways, including a coach or therapist. I offer teen coaching with a parent element, as well as 1:1 therapy. You can get to know my services HERE.

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #5: Get to know yourself

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When I was younger and magazines were a big deal (aging myself here, haha), I was all over taking the quizzes. So many quizzes. I don’t know how accurate the information was or how valid for that matter, but it was about getting to know myself better- and having some fun. 

Here are a few neat online tests that can give you a perspective on you (or your teen): 


Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #6: Self-reflect on your values

What really matters to you? When you live according to the things that are most important to you- things just flow a little more. There is less room for anxiety, worry, and uncertainty when you are doing, saying, and behaving in ways that are in sync with what you value.

If you’re not sure what your values are yet, you can start discovering them with this Values Card Exercise.

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Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #7: Enjoy the NOW

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Growing your mindfulness skills will definitely help with future worry. Being mindful helps you tune into your experience in the “right now” moment. The brain can’t be slipping into the future or dwelling on the past when it is being mindful of the ‘now’. This can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and bring some compassion and acceptance to your experience. 

I wrote a blog article all about mindfulness for teens that you may find helpful: Mindfulness for Teens: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #8: Schedule worry time

It’s normal to experience worry. Everyone does. If worry and anxiety about the future are taking too much real estate in your brain, consider scheduling it in. 

Sound weird? 

Kim Pratt, LCSW shares that “whatever we do as humans over and over again, we get better at.  If we give in to our mind’s pull to worry, at random intervals throughout the day, then the ability to worry will grow stronger”. You can read more in this article.

So, in turn if you limit or schedule worries to a certain time, your brain gets better at processing those worries during those time periods.

Note: I would highly recommend avoiding close to bedtime as one of those worry times. Opt for times that are convenient for you to have time afterwards to chill, connect, and do something enjoyable.  

Teen Anxiety & The Future Tip #9: Ask helpful questions
When worry strikes, it can be all too easy to start asking questions. But are those questions helpful? Or are they getting you stuck in the pit of despair?

Here are a few examples of flipping worry-creating-questions into calm-the-worry-questions.


Worry-creating-questions Calm-the-worry-questions
How will I make money???? How many ways can I come up with to make a buck?
What if I don’t get into my top College pick? Where else would be interesting to go if I’m not going to my top College pick?

Which options have the best programs of interest for me?

What if I can’t figure this out? How can I figure this out? 
Do I take a gap year or go straight to school? I wonder what I’d come up with if I did a Cost Benefit Analysis for each of these options? 
What if I make the wrong decision? Most people don’t figure out their future in a straight and narrow- how can I have fun and learn along the way?

Anxiety, including worries about the future, is on the rise for teens. With the access they have to social media, the news, etc., they are carrying worries that you and I never had to. I have developed a 4-month program, The Happiness Pill, to counteract some of the anxiety your teen daughter is dealing with.

The program starts with a road map for you and your teen of what you want life to look like – both for her future, as well as your relationship with her going forward. There are then several parent coaching sessions – an opportunity for you to build a relationship with other parents, 1:1 sessions just for your teen, adn weekly group sessions for your daughter to meet other teens dealing with similar things. I give your teen the tools to handle her anxiety in a healthy way that leads her to a life of presence and joy. It will give her tools well beyond her current worries; tools that will carry her into the future. 

See the FAQ section on The Happiness Pill website for more information. You can email info@pyramidpsychology.com to get on the waiting list for the next intake as well.


The Happiness Pill


Here is to a future you enjoy.



Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.

Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.

Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email ideas and questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.

7 Tips to Discuss World Events With Teens

7 Tips to Discuss World Events With Teens

‘How do I discuss world events with my teen?’ is a question that has come up a lot lately for the parents we work with. Topics are coming up for teens around things like the ever changing restrictions (or removal of them) with the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, various demonstrations in Canada, etc. 

Simply ignoring these topics right now isn’t always the best solution, because your teen is hearing about it anyways – from the media, at school, through their friends, overhearing adults, etc.

Instead, it is important to open a line of communication with your teen where they can feel safe discussing some of their feelings, and asking questions.

We came up with 7 tips to discuss world events with teens for you. You can download a printable version for free HERE.

Discuss World Events With Your Teen Tip #1: Acknowledge the situation (circumstance/event) with your teen in a way that works for them.

It is important to keep in mind where your teen is developmentally. Consider these points when acknowledging the topic at hand:

sticking to facts as much as possible
✅ going into less detail with younger youth
✅ starting broad and following their lead

Discuss World Events With Your Teen Tip #2: Invite your teen to share what they are thinking and feeling.

Creating space for your teen to sort through what they’re taking in and how they are feeling about it can help them make meaning and express what’s going on for them. This can be done during family time, while going out for a drive, or by creating opportunities to check-in with them individually.

Note: It is also okay if your teen doesn’t say a lot, especially if they are less talkative or verbal in general!

Discussing World Events With Teens Tip #3: How can you help if your teen is feeling helpless?

If your teen is experiencing a feeling of helplessness and wanting to help in some way, but unsure how, you can support them… Encourage them to take action in a way that fits them. You can brainstorm different ideas together!

Discuss World Events With Your Teen tip #4: Remember that this conversation does not have to be a “one and done”.

With challenging or emotionally difficult topics, sometimes it is better to break up the topic into more manageable conversations. This helps reduce the likelihood of your teen feeling overwhelmed and helps them process the information.

Discuss World Events With Your Teen Tip #5: Use self-regulation and co-regulation strategies.

Self-regulation and co-regulation strategies can be used to keep the conversation calm, open, and nonjudgmental. Regulation is a big topic, but if you need some tips or ideas to get started check out THIS ARTICLE.

Here are a few top tips:

  • Take a few deep breaths before and during the conversation.
  • Pay attention to the sensations in your body (is your head pounding, stomach turning, etc.)
  • Acknowledge, label, and share your feelings “I’m feeling so sad about this right now:

Discuss World Events With Your Teen Tip #6: Thank your teen

Let your teen know that you are thankful they were willing to talk with you about the difficult topic. Having hard conversations can be intimidating, and it can take a great deal of bravery, honesty, and vulnerability.

Acknowledge that the topic is difficult and also your teen’s strengths in being willing to talk about it!

Discuss World Events With Your Teen Tip #7: Let your teen know it’s okay to take a break.

Steeping themselves in constant information and stories about what is going on is often not helpful and creates more stress and anxiety. (And yes we acknowledge that this is a privilege that we get to turn off the TV or put the phone down.)

Encourage your teen to take breaks to connect with others, do something they enjoy, or share a talent or skill and put something beautiful out in this world.

If you found these tips helpful, share with a friend and download your free printable version HERE.

It is also okay to recognize if you need outside help to ensure your teen’s mental wellness is doing well. We offer 1:1 counselling virtually, or in-person. You can get to know our team and book a free parent consultation with us HERE.


Team Pyramid Psychology – Chantal, Jessa, and Ally


Counselling (or therapy) is a support that helps people who are facing difficult situations. It’s not meant to “fix you” and it does not mean “something is wrong” with you. It’s about offering a safe place to try new ideas, resolve problems, make changes, and move towards the life you want to live. Different therapists can help people work towards personal, relationship, athletic, educational, and career hopes and go​als.

Counselling is a combination of expressing yourself, being witnessed (listened to), discovering resources, and learning new things. There will be times when you will be sharing about your experiences and your counsellor will listen. There are other times when you will be discovering things that will support you to get through difficult situations. Sometimes your therapist will share information, ideas, and resources with you.

We help teen girls build bulletproof mindsets through:

  • Transforming negative self-talk into confidence, clarity and strength
  • Embracing self-love and stepping into the spotlight
  • Learning who to let into their squad of BFFs

You can learn more about each of our team members HERE or book a free consultation HERE.

If you have something you’d like to read more on – email questions to info@pyramidpsychology.com or DM us via Instagram or Facebook.