Initially when I started doing EMDR online therapy it seemed much more tiring than face to face work. Obviously we are dealing with the pandemic and we’ve got the other stresses of lockdown which might be making us more tired as therapists so that has got to be factored in.
There’s also been a blurring between home and work and we’re not used to being in these four walls of our home to conduct every part of our life. I mean how often do we finish a therapy session and then have a quick wander around the house to see what everyone else is up to? How often do we switch attention so frequently between work and what the family are up to? Switching our attention has got to be using more brain calories
ARE WE WORKING HARDER WHEN DOING THE BLS PART OF EMDR ONLINE? My two favourite types to use have been the light bar, or doing the butterfly hug and tapping along with the client. The tapping feels so intense. I feel more ‘in this together’ with the client, then I do in my office because you’re doing the work at the same time. It really got me thinking about the whole bilateral stimulation element of EMDR, and what processes might be happening in me as a therapist. Often I’m counting (I try not to!) or thinking about the client’s experiences, in this way it can almost feel as if I too am vicariously processing the client’s trauma. I always tell clients that they are likely to feel tired after sessions and many report back that they feel exhauseted, maybe this is happening to therapists too.
We are all human and on occasions, my client has been processing experiences similar to what I have lived through. Recently a client was working through a bit in a memory connected to hospital. This naturally made me connect with a time when my sister was ill with cancer and spending a lot of time in hospital with her. Maybe even without being aware therefore by doing the bilateral stimulation, as therapists we process part of our own traumatic memories, perhaps not even on a conscious level.
As well as it being tiring, there are benefits to doing the BLS together. I think I am coping well with everything at the moment and I do think the BLS might be helping this. In Dr Jarero’s protocol (https://youtu.be/BGl5QOFHtbE) therapists advocate self administering bilateral stimulation to help frontline staff. Also the flash technique again advocates bilateral stimulation whilst thinking of a positive engaging focus to help decrease the impact of difficult memories. Maybe this is happening unconsciously with us.
In my experience online EMDR therapy has felt really different. I’ll certainly keep on reflecting on how I’m feeling about it. Hope you guys are enjoying what you’re doing.