Does EMDR work over telehealth/video? Yes! I was trained in EMDR during the pandemic over telehealth and my training included ways to administer EMDR over video sessions to adapt to the ongoing health crisis. Since my training, I have successfully administered EMDR over telehealth to many clients. Before we start EMDR, we will go over the different forms of bi-lateral stimulation and I will help you set up a safe and relaxing EMDR space. We will use a HIPAA compliant secure video session to complete our sessions. Please see the section of this website How to prepare for a telehealth EMDR appointment for more info.
What should I expect during an EMDR appointment? During EMDR work I will ask you to focus your attention on the target or memory that we chose to work on while doing directed eye movements or engaging in other forms of bi-lateral stimulation (tapping on self or listening to audio tones). Sometimes it can take a few tries to get used to doing two things at once. This is ok! I find that most clients adapt pretty quickly to this, and the saying in EMDR is we want one foot to be in the present with the therapist (which is linked to your intention to clear trauma and move forward) and one foot in the past. By holding this duel awareness it reminds us that if unpleasant memories or sensations come up during EMDR that they are just remnants of the stored trauma that is coming up while we process it, and you are safe in the present moment.
I don't want to relive the trauma again. Will EMDR be painful? If at any time the processing becomes too painful or overwhelming, we will stop immediately and work on a plan moving forward in EMDR to help you feel more grounded and supported as you process. Some clients experience old memories, or new insight comes through during the EMDR set, such as remembering details that were forgotten that help make sense of the situation. Others experience body sensations such as temporary tightness or uncomfortable physical feelings, and sometimes clients will notice their inner voice trying to make sense of things. And sometimes clients report feeling nothing at all during sets. All of these responses are normal, and clients have reported that they go away as the session progresses. I like to think of EMDR as a jump start for your car battery when it's dead. The EMDR provides the jump start that the brain and body needs to start naturally processing trauma. And the EMDR clinician's job is to safely guide the client through that process with minimal discomfort.
How long do the effects of the EMDR session last? Generally, after an EMDR processing session, the effects are temporary and can last for up to 4-6 hours. Some clients don't report feeling anything after a session, others feel like they need to take a nap afterwards. Others report experiencing vivid dreams a night or two after the session. It is the EMDR therapist's job to work with you to create a supportive plan to manage any distressing effects of EMDR. EMDR jump starts the brain's natural ability to process memories, which often is done in REM sleep. It is always recommended to plan for a good night's sleep and avoid using recreational drugs or alcohol after the session which will help support healthy REM cycles.
Is there any homework with EMDR? No homework with EMDR! All of the work is done in the session. Sometimes after a targeted session, I may ask you to take notice of how you feel between appointments to see how you are adapting to the AIP (adaptive information processing).