At the time of writing this post, September 2020 we are still living with restrictions due to Covid 19. Local lockdown’s are popping up all over the UK. It feels difficult to have to deal with this level of uncertainty. Many therapists and clients are preferring to do online work. So if you want to find out more about different ways to do EMDR online this post may be of interest to you.

Set up your office differently

We are usually taught to set up our therapy chairs as ships that pass in the night. However when providing EMDR sessions online we are sat in front of our computer so ships that pass in the night no longer works. There are different things for us to consider.

Make sure there is a good clear image of yourself on the screen. Avoid sitting with a window behind you as this will blur the image of yourself. You could use lamps or different lighting next to your computer to make yourself more visible. Clients are cued in to our non verbal communication and want to see that online as much as they would in person.

So also remind the client to not sit with a window behind them. Again we want to see their non verbal communication too. We also want to be seeing a full image of a clients face, not just their eyes and forehead!!

You might need to have some space around you. Especially if you are using a light bar for the bilateral stimulation. I will turn my lap top to the side to have the lightbar fully on screen and me slightly off screen. 

If we are still working from our homes explain to clients where we are and that there might be background noise. I think this helps to normalise the situation. It also emphasizes that we are all in this together.

Set good boundaries and expectations

In my experience if I know what the boundaries are I know what to expect and this helps me to feel safe. I send out an information sheet to clients about what to expect in a session. It’s important to express the need for a safe, private space at home. However we must also acknowledge that pets, doorbells with deliveries etc may also become part of the session! Somehow this always seems to work ok for most people. 

I ask clients to make sure electronic devices are fully charged. If we are using eye movements as our bilateral stimulation to work on either an tablet, laptop or computer. This enables a bigger screen to enhance the length of the sets.

I talk about the practicalities so ask clients not to sit with a window behind them. I will ask them to bring a drink and some tissues into the session.

Use different types of Bilateral Stimulation.

There are so many different ways that you can do the Bilateral Stimulation online. It’s always good for you to have many of these in your tool box. You can bring them out during a session as they are needed. 

You can do eye movements with your hand or a lightbar as usual by moving yourself to the side of the computer screen. Always check that the client is following the movements. It might be that different light colours work better online. A wand could be used with a coloured end if using your arm. It’s all about trying and seeing what works for the client.

I love to use the butterfly hug, so myself and my clients cross our arms over our chests and tap from side to side. You can tap the table or your lap. Stand up and march bilaterally. You could be a gorilla and tap each side of your chest. You could have some drum sticks and beat a drum or the desk infront of you bilaterally. 

There are many different apps available where you can share your screen with clients and they can follow a different coloured ball to get the bilateral stimulation. Many of them also have sound so you can use more than one form of bilateral stimulation and tax the working memory. 

We always need to be mindful that the boundaries of online work are somewhat different from in person work, we always need to check in with the client and see what works for them. For many working from their own home is great, more flexible, a better use of time as they don’t have to travel and more comfortable but for others the emotional work they are doing in their own home can mean that it’s difficult to get away from it. So always have these discussions with clients and do be prepared for things going wrong Click here to read my blog post about exactly that!


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