Today, there are many devices available for the bilateral stimulation part of the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. One device that has gained popularity among therapists is the light bar.
Since the initial years of EMDR therapy, most therapists had to cover the bilateral stimulation part manually using their hands. However, devices like a light bar are changing the way this crucial element of the therapy works.
However, if you’re thinking of adopting it in your practice, you probably have some questions and concerns.
Should You Invest in a Light Bar?
If you haven’t given an EMDR bilateral stimulation device a try, starting off with a light bar can be a viable option. It’s the easiest to use of all and as you can see, it can offer many benefits. Most importantly, it will prevent fatigue, which is often reported by EMDR therapists.
That said, you can resort to manual ways of bilateral stimulation should you or your client be more comfortable doing so.
The most popular Light bars these days come from EMDR Kit, a Dutch company that ships their equipment all over the world. They design quality equipment which also come with the most options in the market. You can check out their website here.
Yes, these light bars can be expensive, but if you’re an EMDR specialist, the long-term use will make up for the cost with its benefits.
What is an EMDR Light Bar?
An EMDR light bar is a bilateral stimulation device made of a bar with LED lights on a stand. The bar is horizontal in orientation, fixed with LED lights that move from side to side for bilateral stimulation.
The exact design and feature may vary by the model, but most light bars these days can be controlled wirelessly. In other words, you can set up things like the color of light or the speed of the movement, usually with the help of an app that connects to the device.
As the light sweeps from left to right and right to left, your client can follow it for the eye movement bit during EMDR sessions. It essentially eliminates the need to move your arm to guide their eye movement.
Benefits of Using an EMDR Light Bar
EMDR, as a therapy, has come a long way. It’s not what it was like the first few years after Francine Shapiro pioneered it. With years of practice all around the world and a lot of studies, there are new advanced ways for the delivery of this kind of therapy.
So there are benefits to adopting a light bar device as well:
Manual bilateral stimulation with the use of your hands is quite laborious, especially when you’re doing it consistently all day with different clients. If you’re a psychologist specializing in EMDR, perhaps a bulk of your clients are doing EMDR with you, which means multiple sessions in a day where you have to constantly move your arms to guide your client.
This comes at the expense of your body which can feel fatigued. Many EMDR therapists report neck stiffness, sore shoulders, and ache in wrists because of moving their arms for long for the purpose of guiding eye movement.
Using a light bar can resolve this issue as you no longer need to move your arm. The client follows the moving light on the bar, freeing you from this crucial yet tiresome duty.
This can especially be useful for days when you have multiple EMDR sessions.
Bilateral stimulation devices like light bars simply give you more control. You can adjust the settings according to the specific needs of the session.
For instance, you can change the color and intensity of the light. You can also set the speed of the movement of light. In some cases, it may help to change the speed gradually.
There’s just a lot of flexibility with these light bars in terms of guiding your client’s eye movement, even allowing you to experiment a little. Doing so with your arms may not be so easy, not to mention manual hand movement can be sloppy if you’re tired.
Easy to Use
Some EMDR light bars work through bluetooth connectivity, which allows them to be controlled via a mobile app. You can download the app on your phone or tablet and control everything from there.
This makes things pretty easy and fast for you as a therapist.
For your clients, there’s no learning curve either. They simply have to follow the light, which you’re controlling.
Challenges of Using an EMDR Light Bar
While there are evidently more benefits to using a light bar, there are some challenges you may have to deal with too.
Since it’s easy to use, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. However, if you’ve been doing bilateral stimulation with your hands and fingers manually, you may find that by using a light bar you may feel distanced from the client for that particular part of the session.
That’s not a big issue if you remember that the EMDR protocol asks therapists to stay out of the way when the client is going through the bilateral stimulation phase. However, you can find ways to be more present with your client during the experience.
Using Light Bars for Online or Self-Administered EMDR
The EMDR light bar for eye movement can also come in handy for the online sessions of EMDR or even the self-administered EMDR through virtual tools.
The client can purchase the light bar and set it themselves when completing the bilateral stimulation part of the therapy. In most cases, the virtual tool would have its own stimulation tool, which may be a moving light on the screen.
Similarly, for teletherapy sessions, a therapist can use the lightbar, which their client can observe on their screens.
Therefore, a light bar isn’t just useful for in-person therapy but also other forms of delivery as well.