Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy used to help people resolve past life experiences and traumas. Originally developed by Francine Shapiro in 1988, EMDR therapy is a mental health intervention and should be delivered by trained and licensed mental health clinicians.

EMDR therapy is typically offered in office, however nowadays clinicians are exploring virtual therapy options to suit a wider audience where the therapy may not be readily available. You can find al kind of EMDR therapy sessions on platform such as VirtualeEMDR.com.

Looking for EMDR Therapist?
You can try virtual EMDR online for unlimited sessions.

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What is EMDR therapy?

During EMDR therapy sessions, you relive traumatic or distressing experiences in minimal duration whilst a therapist directs your eye movements. The premise of the therapy is in directing your eye movements, your attention is not solely focused on recalling past memories.

Without fully attending to previous traumatic experiences, there is lesser chance of an intense psychological response to the therapy. With time, recalling these memories becomes easier and less stressful to the individual.

Additionally, EMDR therapy has been found to be especially effective to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Aside from PTSD, it is recognised worldwide as a successful therapeutic measure for survivors of trauma and torture (Marin et al., 2021).

The support from organisations such as the WHO, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, allow clinicians great confidence in applying EMDR therapy as a sound method in improving mental health.

Looking for EMDR Therapist?
You can try virtual EMDR online for unlimited sessions.

What can you expect from EMDR therapy?

EMDR therapists typically deliver individual therapy one to two sessions weekly. Session amount varies between six and 12, however this is person dependent, and some people may benefit from only a few sessions.

Usually, sessions last between 60 and 90 minutes. The therapist will direct your eye movement by placing their finger in front of your face and circulating this finger throughout the session. At the same time, the therapist will guide and ask you to recall a traumatic memory and go through the experience as though you were re-living it.

Of course, the above portrays an oversimplification of the therapy session. Therapists and clinicians alike are trained in EMDR therapy in that many studies have allowed for rich protocols to be followed. Nowadays, especially as a result of Covid-19, many therapists are looking into providing remote and virtual EMDR therapy services.

Virtual EMDR therapy merits its own research, and guidelines provided by reputable organisations such as EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) exist to support clinicians in offering this kind of therapy online.

The benefits of EMDR therapy

Most research focuses on EMDR therapy for individuals with PTSD. Clinicians follow a rigorous therapeutic approach in that the therapy is divided into eight phases.

The first phase works as a historical assessment between the clinician and individual, and to work towards a common therapeutic goal.

In the second phase, therapists offer guidance and inform the individual the workings of EMDR therapy as well as practicing eye movements.

The third phase assesses the target memory and identifies the memories components. Phases 4-7 features the clinician’s tools to guide the individual through their memory in order to resolve previous trauma, and finally, phase eight evaluates treatment results.

With the above phases in mind, it is understandable how sessions are made up and divided efficiently. Each individual progresses in their own time, hence sessions are agreed upon between therapist and the individual seeking therapy.

EMDR therapy is believed to be particularly useful for individuals who struggle to speak of previous experiences and trauma. Therapy is also believed to help treat depression, anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, and addiction, however further research is needed.

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Is Virtual EMDR therapy online at home a good solution?

As EMDR therapy is a less traditional form of therapy, it can be difficult to find an EMDR therapist ‘near me’. Nevertheless, online mediums such as VirtualeEMDR.com offer mental health services that can be helpful to explore alongside other therapies.

It is worth emphasising that although less research is dedicated toward online EMDR therapy, guidelines have been recommended to clinicians in order to provide virtual EMDR therapy. In this way, virtual therapy can mean a promising method in providing adequate mental health services on a remote basis.

Whether EMDR therapy is suitable for you depends on multiple factors, and this kind of therapy should be discussed between a clinician and yourself to determine whether it is a good fit.

It is widely recognised to treat PTSD and as a result of extensive research, is supported as an effective treatment method by reliable health organisations. Although there is lesser research to support virtual EMDR therapy, this is now changing, allowing you the certainty and ability to take care of your mental health starting today.

Looking for EMDR Therapist?
You can try virtual EMDR online for unlimited sessions.

Josiane Camilleri

Josiane Camilleri

Professor

Writer for Therapy Hunter as well as psychology
professor at Malta University.

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