For patients dealing with distressing and traumatic events, traveling to their therapist’s office for counseling may not be a viable option. For people who do not want to leave the safety or convenience of their private and isolated setting, video and online counseling using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy opens up a safe and comfortable treatment gateway.
To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of trauma, including psychological, emotional and physical stress due to a single or series of disturbing events.
EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. While the origins of EMDR are in face-to-face clinical settings, trained therapists have brought the therapy online to bring treatment benefits to more patients. The rate of compassionate care through remote EMDR therapy is steadily increasing, especially in the United States, United Kingdom.
The very nature of EMDR is to turn the self-talk and traumatic memories into reframed and reprocessed memories.
The therapeutic procedure guides patients to access and process distressing memories, while focusing their attention on external stimuli, such as blinking lights. This sort of therapy has been shown to help patients decrease the adverse effects associated with their trauma. Dr. Joel Lavenson, MA, NCC, LPC, LCPC. BCPC, BCPTSD Clinician, and trained EMDR therapist explains that the essential ingredient for EMDR is to facilitate the attention stimulation by alternating right brain/left brain stimulation, and for the clinician to clearly see and react to the gestalt of the client. In other words, to be able to monitor the patient’s reactions and “eye movement” while the patient revisits traumatic memories.
For individuals affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the associated anxiety, flashbacks, and in extreme scenarios, suicidal thoughts, remote therapy allows patients to adhere to their treatment regimen no matter their location.
“Let me say that remote EMDR treatment is not for everyone,” adds Dr. Joel Lavenson. “Only EMDR trained and certified clinicians that feel comfortable using video counseling, and for those clients who find either the need or desire to be remotely treated with this specialty, will be good candidates.”
EMDR therapy can be conducted in-person, partially remote or in fully remote scenarios.
In a partially remote scenario, the EMDR equipment is set up and controlled from a clinician’s office. Just as if the patient were sitting in the clinician’s office in front of the computer screen, the clinician would begin to run the eye tests remotely in various ways, watching the patient’s movements as they track light on the screen, i.e., a light bar or lighted pulsars. “The key ingredient is that the client keep their head still and their eyes follow just as they would do in my office,” notes Dr. Lavenson. “When setting up the light bar or the other techniques, I make sure that their eyes move as far right and then left as possible.”
Just as would happen in their office, it is essential to set up the client in front of their computer screen so that their eyes and upper body can be clearly seen by the clinician. It is especially critical to have good lighting not behind the patient, but on their face.
“Even when I am in a remote location, if the camera angle is set up properly, I can be just as effective since the client’s focus is on their internal thoughts and emotions, just as if they were in the same room.” - Dr. Lavenson
In a fully remote consultation, the EMDR equipment is located at the client’s home and is controlled by the client through the direction of the clinician. This method requires clinicians to notice the patient’s reactions and instruct them when to turn the on/off button on or off, as needed.
There are plenty of apps that assist with at-home and remote EMDR surveys available for download for tablets and computers, including EMDR Therapy, and Anxiety Release based on EMDR. The apps are operated by the client who simply tracks a light in the app. “This approach also has the advantage of having [the patient] listen to the beep in headsets simultaneously,” said Dr. Lavenson.
Though receiving psychotherapy and PTSD treatment online is the preference of many, remote counseling is not appropriate for everyone’s circumstance. These remote EMDR methods require clinicians to thoroughly screen each client for good video counseling etiquette, and above all, make sure that the patient has the ability to be alone and have a safe place to go in their minds should the emotional reaction become untenable.
If you would like to contact Dr. Joel Lavenson for a free introductory consultation or additional information about remote EMDR therapy, you may contact him directly through his RingMD profile.
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