Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Virtual EMDR: What Are the Pros and Cons of Doing It Without A Therapist?

Virtual EMDR: What Are the Pros and Cons of Doing It Without A Therapist?

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Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is an incredibly powerful psychotherapy treatment originally formulated to treat posttraumatic stress disorder. But its healing powers don’t stop there – this revolutionary approach has been demonstrated to be successful in treating a wide array of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and phobias. Through EMDR therapy, clients focus on a traumatic memory while concurrently receiving bilateral stimulation (BLS). BLS can be achieved by having the therapist flicker their fingers in front of your eyes or providing you with tones that alternate between each ear. This dual approach allows for an effective and efficient way to process past traumas.

The objective of EMDR therapy is to assist the client in working through traumatic memories securely and healthily, ultimately leading to less emotional distress and improved daily functioning. Virtual EMDR is a form of this treatment that happens online; this means instead of meeting face-to-face with their therapist, patients connect remotely using video chat. And though guidance from the therapist remains unchanged for virtual EMDR, bilateral stimulation will be implemented via digital tools.

Overview of virtual EMDR

Utilising virtual EMDR offers a multitude of advantages. Rural-based individuals or those who lack the ability to travel for therapy can find this technology highly convenient. Additionally, it is often more cost-effective than in-person sessions and provides unprecedented privacy as treatment can be conducted from the comfort of one’s own home. Although there are benefits to undergoing virtual EMDR, it is important to recognise that there may be drawbacks.

Establishing a genuine connection with your therapist over video chat can be tricky, and ensuring you remain focused on the therapy when surrounded by potential distractions might pose an issue as well. Additionally, if any intense emotions arise during the session for which you do not have someone available to support or help process them accordingly, this could further impede the progress of your recovery journey.

When considering doing virtual EMDR without the help of a professional, it is vital to consider all advantages and drawbacks before taking any action. It’s important that you make sure you are comfortable with the associated risks of self-EMDR so that your decision will be one which makes sense for both your mental health and safety. All things contemplated, this should be a personal choice based on careful consideration.

Pros of virtual EMDR while doing it without a therapist

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally developed to treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it has since been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of other mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and phobias.

EMDR therapy involves the therapist asking the client to focus on a traumatic memory while they are simultaneously exposed to bilateral stimulation (BLS). BLS can be provided in a number of ways, such as by having the therapist move their fingers back and forth in front of the client’s eyes or by having the client listen to tones that alternate in their ears.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to help the client process the traumatic memory in a safe and healthy way. This can lead to a reduction in the client’s emotional distress and an increase in their ability to function in daily life.

Virtual EMDR is a type of EMDR therapy that is conducted online. This means that the client and therapist do not meet in person but instead connect via video chat. The therapist will still guide the client through the EMDR process, but they will use virtual tools to provide the bilateral stimulation.

There are a number of potential pros to doing virtual EMDR without a therapist.

  • Convenience. Virtual EMDR can be done from the comfort of your own home at a convenient time. This can be especially helpful if you have a busy schedule or live in a rural area.
  • Affordability. Virtual EMDR can be more affordable than traditional in-person therapy. This is because you do not have to travel to a therapist’s office.
  • Privacy. Virtual EMDR can be more private than traditional in-person therapy. This is because you can do the therapy from the comfort of your own home, where you are less likely to be interrupted or overheard.
  • Autonomy. Virtual EMDR gives you more control over your treatment. You can choose the time and place of your sessions and stop the therapy at any time if you feel uncomfortable.

However, it is important to note that there are also some potential cons to doing virtual EMDR without a therapist:

  • Lack of support. If you experience any strong emotions during virtual EMDR, you may not have anyone to help you cope with them. This is because you are not in the same room as your therapist.
  • Lack of guidance. If you have any questions or concerns about virtual EMDR, you may not be able to get immediate help from your therapist. This is because you are not in the same room as your therapist.
  • Lack of accountability. If you are not motivated to do virtual EMDR, it may be difficult to stick with the treatment. This is because you are not in the same room as your therapist, and they cannot see you doing the therapy.

How to decide if virtual EMDR is right for you

If you are considering doing virtual EMDR, it is important to weigh the pros and cons carefully. If you decide to do virtual EMDR, be sure to find a reputable therapist who is experienced in providing EMDR therapy online.

Tips for doing virtual EMDR without a therapist

If you decide to do Virtual EMDR without a therapist, there are a few things you can do to make the experience more successful:

  • Find a quiet and private place to do the therapy. You need to be able to focus on the therapy without distractions.
  • Make sure you have a good internet connection. You will need a stable connection to be able to connect with your therapist and use the virtual tools.
  • Be prepared to experience strong emotions. EMDR can be a powerful therapy, and it is important to be prepared for the possibility of experiencing strong emotions.
  • Have a plan for coping with strong emotions. If you experience strong emotions during therapy, it is important to have a plan for how you will cope with them. This could include things like taking a break, listening to calming music, or talking to a friend or family member.
  • Be patient. EMDR is a process, and it takes time to see results. Be patient with yourself and the therapy.

Final thoughts

Virtual EMDR offers a practical, economical way to seek therapy; however, weighing the advantages and disadvantages before making any decisions is essential. If you believe that virtual EMDR online without therapist assistance is best suited for your needs, remember to remain patient throughout the process, take breaks as necessary and devise an appropriate plan of action in case intense emotions arise. With diligent preparation, virtual EMDR can be an incredibly effective treatment option.


Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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