Embracing Virtual EMDR
Is virtual EMDR legit? Can you do EMDR on Zoom? Before COVID, there were some rumblings of EMDR therapy being administered over the internet via Skype. As a child of the industrial age and an eye movement desensitization and reprocessing psychologist who romanticized Jungian and Freudian analysis, the thought of doing therapy via a screen was an abomination–an outrage! It is dangerous! What if the client dysregulates and you’re in a different town? How can your considerer such madness? How can you behave with such recklessness?
I held that point of view until COVID arrived in the world, and of course, everything changed. Even with the presence of COVID, my stubbornness against virtual EMDR did not immediately soften. However, it did not take long before I realized everything was different in this new COVID reality.
No one ever imagined we’d be wearing masks, wiping down groceries, and hiding indoors away from friends and family for months. Even the most stubborn, like me, had to step back and take a new view of their work and its delivery to clients during COVID, embracing telehealth. For me, my work is administering and teaching EMDR therapy. In-person training was not going to happen anytime soon, if ever again. Something had to change if I continued to do the work I loved.
Can EMDR Be Performed Virtually?
I wasn’t sure where to begin. I don’t think anyone was sure how to proceed. It was the wild west for a while. I don’t think anyone was sure how to proceed. It was the wild west for a while. YouTubers and professional education providers helped me understand the technology, ethics, and method of administering EMDR therapy safely online. These technological skills I was learning expanded my ability to teach virtual EMDR courses to large groups of therapists online.
The mental health community knew a tsunami of trauma victims was brewing caused by COVID. Loved ones were dying alone by the thousands; the medical community was being traumatized, as were hundreds of thousands of survivors who lost loved ones. There was never a more urgent time to train therapists in EMDR. There was the motivation to learn how to teach online and administer it online because person to person contact was a thing of the past, at least for now.
New respect for younger therapists began to develop. YouTube influencers who never knew a world without iPhones and computers made a seamless transition. For them, in-person was a cumbersome experience, and online was where they lived. As this more senior professional, I consumed their videos and learned so much from these young experts. I like to say I channeled my inner millennial and bowed to the technical wizardry of the younger generation.
I view my life and work through a Jungian lens and have done so since 1975 when I picked up a little book Jung wrote titled Modern Man in Search of His Soul. I was sold on Jung from that point on. Why do I bring up Jung? What does he have to do with virtual therapy? Jung said, and I try never to forget this quote, especially during times like these is this:
“All true things change, and only that which change remains true.” –C. G. Jung
So here I am, a stubborn old man who was stuck in his ways, who was forced to change or end his career. I chose to change, change so I can remain true. True to myself, true to my profession, and true to those I can heal and teach. The grumpy old man is never too far away, telling me my time has passed. I’m doing my best to keep him at bay.
As I began to explore the digital platform, I started with my laptop and added an additional monitor. After watching videos on YouTube about creating the best home office, I sort of got carried away being inspired by my millennial mentors from YouTube. Here is my setup today.
Although, I prefer in person trainings. Now that COVID is somewhat under control I am glad to be back doing live EMDR trainings again, but I continue to do virtual ones as well where people from all over the world come and exchange ideas. Quite an amazing thing this technology. I really didn’t lose the old way I just added the virtual reality to it.
The end result allowed me to accept and explore the virtual reality that we all have access to these days. To use it to administer therapy that can be done safely and to administer training to large groups of therapists from all around the world. Change is hard, but it’s what John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are making plans.”
For more information on Virtual EMDR
See: Kambria Evans, Approve EMDR Consultant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jp2q3YfP4Z0
For virtual EMDR therapy for children
see Jackie Flynn, Approved EMDR Consultant: https://playtherapycommunity.com/