How Virtual Reality Is Helping EMDR Therapists Provide Better Treatment
EMDR virtual reality technology has been rapidly evolving in recent years, providing therapists with new and innovative tools to help their clients.
VR software can mimic the environment of an EMDR session, allowing therapists to provide treatment remotely—making this specialized therapy more accessible than ever.
In our webinar, EMDR Powered By Virtual Reality, we discussed how EMDR therapists are using virtual reality every day to help their patients overcome trauma and heal.
Missed it? Click here to catch the replay.
Here, we highlight some of the many advantages that virtual reality can bring to EMDR therapist. If you’re an EMDR therapist, keep reading to learn more about the benefits of using virtual reality in your practice.
What is EMDR?
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an empirically validated type of treatment used to help people process and heal from traumatic experiences.(1)
It’s a specialized form of therapy that uses alternating stimulation of bilateral eye movements, sounds, or hand taps to help the patient process traumatic memories.
But as such a specialized field, it can be hard for patients to find a therapist who offers EMDR. With VR, EMDR therapists can reach more patients, even those who may be geographically distant.
Can EMDR be Done Virtually?
Many mental health professionals have been offering telehealth sessions for several years now. But a common question among EMDR therapists is whether it’s possible to provide effective EMDR treatment remotely.
Luckily, the answer is a resounding yes.
Virtual Reality: A Powerful Tool for EMDR Therapists
While previously, EMDR was generally conducted in a face-to-face setting, technology has enabled EMDR to be conducted virtually and remotely. Many EMDR specialists are turning to digital tools like virtual reality to enhance their practice.
VR can be used to create immersive scenarios that guide clients through bilateral stimulation while allowing the therapist to monitor and assess the patient’s response.
And with VR, telehealth is much easier to offer. This allows patients to access treatment more quickly and conveniently than ever before.
How Virtual Reality Benefits EMDR Therapists
Virtual reality provides EMDR therapists with several advantages when it comes to providing effective therapy.
EMDR in a Controlled Environment
First, patients have the advantage of being able to receive bilateral stimulation in a safe environment that is free from distractions or triggers.
With virtual reality, therapists are also better able to monitor the patient’s response and adjust the treatment as needed.
VR Makes Delivering EMDR Easier Than Ever
Tools like VR give therapists more control over the way they deliver EMDR.
For instance, with Amelia Virtual Care’s platform, therapists can set different configurations for bilateral stimulation. These include the type of visual stimulus, movement direction, duration, and speed of the repetitions.
The ability to control the duration and speed is immensely useful because it frees the therapist to focus on the client’s experience and behavior during the session. No more worrying about timing and hand movements, you can focus your full attention on your client.
The Freedom to Offer EMDR Remotely
Remote therapy is now a viable option for EMDR therapists, thanks to technologies like virtual reality. EMDR virtual reality environments are designed to assist you in delivering effective treatment to your patients, regardless of your location.
As a mental health professional, you can expand your practice to include telehealth—giving you the flexibility to work where and when you choose.
Greater Access to a Specialized Treatment
Virtual reality is making EMDR more accessible, especially for patients who don’t have access to a specialized mental health professional in their area, or for various reasons cannot attend an in-person appointment.
With the help of VR, people can receive the same quality of care from the comfort of their own homes.
Supports Safety While Remote
Dissociation is a valid concern among EMDR therapist. Many worry about the challenges of handling these situations remotely.
Remote EMDR can be done effectively and safely, with a little preparation. Setting up a strategy to bring your patient back into the present moment is key.
Many find it helpful to use two different pieces of technology to conduct EMDR remotely—a laptop for the therapist to see the patient, and the remote EMDR software (typically on a phone app).
EMDR therapists like Luz Soto (LAPC, NCC) find that this process not only helps them to monitor their patients’ engagement, but also creates a safe and connected environment.
She says, “I always have something in the background with them.. Usually, it’s just always music… if I see that they are dissociating, I just stop the music or change the music. That way I bring them back.’”
Discover How Virtual Reality Can Help Your EMDR Practice
The use of virtual reality in EMDR therapy has revolutionized the way therapists provide effective treatment for their patients.
Technologies like VR allow therapists to work more efficiently, and give both therapists and clients the flexibility that comes with remote treatments. It also offers those living in remote areas access to specialized mental health care without having to travel long distances.
By utilizing VR, EMDR practitioners are now able to bridge the gap between traditional in-person treatments and telehealth services with greater ease than ever before.
Interested in learning more about using virtual reality in your practice? Click here to watch the full webinar on EMDR and virtual reality.
- Shapiro F. (2014). The role of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy in medicine: addressing the psychological and physical symptoms stemming from adverse life experiences. The Permanente journal, 18(1), 71–77. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/13-098