Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy enjoys a highly positive reputation in the world of psychology owing to its effectiveness for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental conditions. An important element of the therapy is bilateral stimulation, for which there are several types of devices available. 

While these devices are traditionally used by therapists during EMDR sessions, in-person or online, the mere availability of these devices has also made it possible to do EMDR with or without a therapist in the comfort of your home. 

So is it feasible using EMDR devices by yourself at home for self-administered EMDR?

Can You Do EMDR On Your Own?

Experts have varying opinions on self-administered virtual EMDR. Whether you can do EMDR at home and whether it’s effective when you do it by yourself are two separate questions. 

As far as the possibility of self-administering EMDR virtually goes, it’s entirely possible to do it. With the help of a virtual EMDR tool, which is designed in line with the EMDR protocol and using real-life experienced therapists, one can complete the different phases of EMDR, including bilateral stimulation. 

Now, as for the effectiveness, that may depend on a variety of factors. There aren’t many studies on self-administered EMDR. But one recent paper in BJPsych Open concluded that self-administered therapies, including EMDR, have the potential to be effective. It cited a small group study that showed improvement in symptoms in patients that completed the therapy on their own. 

In fact, some people may find self-administered EMDR more feasible. Those who cannot find an EMDR therapist near them or perhaps have mobility issues can benefit from doing at home by themselves. 

Types of EMDR Devices

When doing EMDR with a virtual tool, you may need to resort to EMDR devices. However, the device you use depends on the type of bilateral stimulation you’re pursuing. 

There are three kinds of bilateral stimulation used in EMDR: visual, auditory, and tactile. 

Visual bilateral stimulation refers to the eye movements from side to side or up and down following a moving object like a finger or light. 

Auditory bilateral stimulation involves alternating sounds in ears, i.e., sound plays in one ear, then in the other, and so on. 

Tactile bilateral stimulation involves tapping shoulders or knees alternately, from left to right and right to left. 

There are devices for all three types of bilateral stimulations. 

Light Bars

Light bars are horizontal bars on a vertical stand, fixed with LED lights. The light moves from side to side to guide eye movement. It may be controlled with a controller device or wirelessly through an application or software.

The light settings can be changed. For example, the speed with which the light moves can be changed. 

Headphones

Headphones are for audio stimulation, often with accompanying software that plays the sound in alternating ears and controls how slow or fast it plays in each ear. 

Tappers

Tappers, also called buzzers or paddles, are for tactile stimulation. These are small handheld devices, one held in each hand that vibrates in an alternating pattern to mimic tapping. Like other EMDR devices, their settings can also be adjusted. 

Can You Use EMDR Devices at Home?

It’s safe to say that for self-administered EMDR, the use of an EMDR device may be necessary. Without devices, you’ll need manual bilateral stimulation, which only a therapist can provide. 

However, as you’re administering the therapy by yourself, you need a device to go through the processing phase and use bilateral stimulation on yourself. 

For instance, you can use a light bar in front of you to guide your eye movements. You can set the light color, brightness, and speed. Press start and continue your session. You may even change the settings during the session any time you want to, so the control is basically in your hands. 

Similarly, you can use other devices for the very same purpose, allowing you to safely and effectively complete this important part of the EMDR therapy. 

It’s easy and safe to use these devices at home. However, there will be a little bit of a learning curve as you’ll need to first figure out how the device works exactly and how you can use it during your session. 

While there are virtual tools as well for bilateral stimulation, having a physical one may be more beneficial. You can control it better with a controlling device right in your hand as you sit on the couch and focus on your inner thoughts, emotions, and feelings. You don’t have to sit up to use a computer screen again and again as the tool is physically present in front of you. 

Keep in mind the use also depends on the virtual tool you’re using for EMDR. The best way to ensure your self-administered therapy goes well is to use a comprehensive virtual EMDR tool like ours that also provides a complete tool set to complete EMDR therapy in the comfort of your zone. 

With the devices integrated with the virtual therapy tool, you don’t have to do much. Otherwise, there’s a lot of work before therapy, which can be confusing and frustrating for the person already dealing with so much. 

More importantly, our toolset comes at 10 percent of the cost of buying a device separately. Basically, everything is included at the same price. So you don’t have to pay for the tool and the devices separately. 

Conclusion

It’s very much possible to self-administer EMDR with the help of EMDR devices at home. With the right tools, you can practice the therapy without needing to directly speak with a therapist or spend a lot of money. 

Of course, doing it with a therapist is also a great option. However, if for any reason, you cannot work with a therapist, it’s worth giving virtual EMDR a shot. Whether you have PTSD, anxiety, or depression, your well-being and mental health deserve every chance of improvement and no stone should be left unturned when it comes to treatment.