Things have changed dramatically for mental health professionals across the country, especially for licensed therapists and mental health professionals. The rapid spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused many mental health therapists and other health professionals to move their practices to online platforms.
As with any client, you should always record the entire history and obtain an extensive chart of the clinical landscape before deciding if the EMDR suits them. For some of the clients with a history of complex trauma, having a caring and caring therapist physically in room with them makes the world of difference. Therefore, the default EMDR method may not be suitable for them.
If you and your client decide that online counseling and EMDR are a perfect fit, you can perform the treatment virtually. Note that these tips are for stage 4 EMDR (reprocessing). Before moving on to Stage 4, you should always ensure that you take an adequate record, provide resources, and create a clear goal sequence plan and assessment.
Here’s a case of what an EMDR therapist in Knoxville had to do in order to maintain his business during office closures in Tennessee and the general apprehension of the public in getting together in-person for appointments. He was able to easily transition his practice to “fully online” including the use of Zoom and other simple, readily available technologies.
Here’s some tips on the fast-track he went through to transition and modernize quickly:
1. Make sure you have a HIPAA-compliant telehealth system
I cannot stress this enough. For anyone providing online consultations, privacy should always be a top priority for clinicians and their clients. My favorite platform is Simple Practice. Simple Practice includes a telehealth feature integrated into its already HIPAA-compliant system. The part I like the most about this system is that it consists of a screen sharing option, which brings me to point #2.
2. Screen sharing
If your system has a screen sharing features: (like simple Practice or zoom in/out), you can easily pull up a virtual light bar to manage eye movements. In addition, there are some virtual light bars on YouTube that you can check out.
Since the emergence of COVID, there are also several online programs you can try which allow you to manage bilateral stimulation, including eye movements or vocal sounds. Some of them are free, while some require a subscription.
- remote control
These computer programs allow you to control the speed and duration of each set of BLS (Bilateral Stimulation).
3. Butterfly hug
Depending on your client’s preference for BLS (Dual Stimulus), also referred to as DAS (Dual Stimulus Attention), you can instruct your clients with a butterfly hug. This is a form of the hand tapping, where the client clasps their arms over the heart and taps the shoulders alternately.
Butterfly hugs are usually preferred during virtual EMDR because it is often more client based.
4. The corners of the room
Another option if you cannot share the screen is the room’s corners. This means you will direct the client to move their eyes from left to right by looking back and forth from corners of the room they are sitting in. You can also train them orally if you need to increase the speed and duration of each set, if necessary.
5. Use the light bar that already exists (if you have one)
This is actually what I do! I have the light bar from EMDR Kit (which I highly recommend, as its wireless and straightforward to use with the app you install on your smart device).
When I’m ready to start reprocessing (stage 4) with a client, I place the light strip right in front of the camera on my computer. Both the light strip and the client are at a comfortable distance, so a complete scanning of the eyes can be achieved. From there, I control BLS sets’ speed, length, and duration right from my smartphone. No other software is needed; there is no screen share or separate link that you have to send to clients.
For me, it’s the easiest and most direct way to administer bilateral stimulation for Virtual EMDR Therapy.
As with any treatment, your safety should always be paramount. Therefore, it is essential to ensure no problems before starting EMDR treatment from an EMDR therapist. If you’re unsure what this will look like, working with an EMDR consultant can help. If you’re struggling to successfully use virtual EMDR in your Practice, set up a consultation to learn more about how I can help.