I Completed My First Virtual EMDR Teletherapy Session…. AND It Worked!!
April 20, 2020 at 2:51 PM
EMDR has always been done in my office … usually with my light bar or sometimes manually the old-fashioned way with my fingers waving in front of the eyes of my client. For those of you who have never heard of EMDR therapy, it is a form of prolonged exposure trauma therapy.
I love using EMDR to help reduce all kinds of symptoms and problems associated with traumatic and painful human experiences (panic attacks, insomnia, intrusive thoughts, OCD symptoms, and more…).
With the pandemic surrounding us and causing additional trauma and fear, I expect to be doing more EMDR in the coming weeks and months to help reduce various mental health symptoms. For example, there are clients whose family members have passed away from the virus. And then there are the more subtle ways that the pandemic and stay at home orders are triggering anxiety. People with past histories of trauma are having more symptoms because they feel more helpless during this time. In some cases, people may be feeling helpless to make money or to have enough time in the day to complete their work while home schooling, or in other cases to simply have a physical break from someone whom they are in a conflicted relationship with.
What I love about EMDR is that I can get results quickly, sometimes with only one or two sessions, a client’s panic symptoms can completely dissipate.
The pandemic seems to be pushing me out of my comfort zone in all kinds of ways! Besides the fact that I can’t go to the salon to get my hair colored (so I am being pushed into accepting my hair becoming increasingly gray LOL), I am also being pushed to try therapies online. I would have never thought of trying to do virtual EMDR Therapy. However, when more clients began using teletherapy to stay safe a few weeks ago, I went to my friend Google and searched “Can EMDR therapy be done virtually?”
I found that therapists have been using virtual EMDR therapy with clients in rural and remote locations via an app on the client’s smart phone, iPad, or other device.
My next step was to try out various EMDR therapy apps to figure out which one works most similarly to what I have currently been using with my clients. I found an app called EMDR Therapy for $9.99 that I think works the best. If you are interested in trying virtual EMDR Therapy, I have included a screenshot that includes what the EMDR Therapy App looks like below…
Basically, the client observes the light bar via their phone or device through the App. In addition, the client uses ear buds plugged into the phone to receive the auditory bilateral stimulation. I still guide the session and tell the client when to turn the light bar on and off to stop the processing between sets of eye movements.
On Saturday, I tried out virtual EMDR with my first client who had a panic attack and was having intrusive thoughts about an event that had occurred during the pandemic. We hit a couple of roadblocks but worked through them readily, and she felt better by the end of the session. I trust that when I see her again, she will say that her symptoms were reduced all week as a result of the therapy.
Just like everyone else, I am not happy about being at home so much. I must use my coping skills and get through the day to day! However, on a positive note, I have been pushed to learn how to better use teletherapy and my clients have become more accustomed to it. When this pandemic is over, I am happy to say I will be better prepared to be able to do teletherapy (including EMDR therapy) while traveling away from Maryland to care for loved ones or to teach workshops.