EMDR via Telehealth

If you are interested in doing EMDR (eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing), a type of trauma therapy that utilizes bilateral stimulation of the brain to “reprocess” traumatic events so that you become “desensitized” to them over time, I can provide that via telehealth in an adapted form. Traditionally, EMDR relies on eye movements that mimic the flicking of the eyes often seen during certain phases of sleep, when the mind is processing and categorizing memories for different types of retention. This is more difficult to do over a screen because typically the client would follow the therapist’s fingers back and forth through the air, but the eye movements need to be wider than the screen a client is looking at. However, I have found the reprocessing works just as well to have the client stimulate both hemispheres of the brain by tapping alternatingly on their own knees while we talk about and reprocess a memory. In this way, I can still offer EMDR to telehealth clients.

EMDR can also be used to “pre-process” future events that are causing anxiety, though we do often find that the anxiety is tied to a past trauma that the future event brings up.

Please note that to engage in this type of therapy, we must at least meet weekly while we are doing EMDR, unless I have confidence in your ability to draw extensively upon support resources outside of the counseling session. Usually, I will not consider making that determination to provide EMDR when meeting less frequently unless we have been working together for at least a year prior to starting EMDR and I have an excellent sense of your coping abilities. EMDR is powerful and has to be done carefully so as not to cause flooding and re-traumatization. It hinges on your ability to maintain “dual awareness” of your past memory and your present, more powerful self, so that you are able to pull yourself out of intense traumatic memories if you are becoming overwhelmed and set them aside to look at later, maybe even in smaller chunks, if we determine you are not yet ready. It is not easy work and it will be intense, but it is worth it.

The first “phase” of EMDR is all about building coping skills, practicing them, and seeing success with their efficacy. The bi-lateral stimulation/reprocessing phase may not happen until a few months of successful coping is demonstrated.