Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a powerful form of psychotherapy that helps individuals overcome the effects of trauma, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. But with the rise of telehealth, many people are wondering whether telehealth or in-person EMDR therapy is the best choice for them.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth uses digital and telecommunications technologies to deliver health-related services and information. Medical practitioners often rely on this remote healthcare alternative to improve access to care for individuals who live in remote or underserved areas or have mobility or transportation issues that make it difficult to access traditional in-person healthcare services.
Patients can now receive medical care and services like therapy from a distance through video conferencing, messaging, and mobile apps.
Medical professionals use telehealth to:
- Diagnose and treat a wide range of health conditions
- Provide health education and counseling
- Remotely monitor patients’ health status
Telehealth has become increasingly popular in recent years due to advancements in technology, changes in healthcare delivery models, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the importance of remote healthcare services in ensuring continuity of care and reducing the risk of exposure to infectious diseases.
How Does EMDR Therapy via Telehealth Work?
When it comes to EMDR therapy, telehealth works similarly to traditional in-person EMDR therapy with the therapist guiding the patient through a structured process of reprocessing traumatic memories and experiences. However, instead of meeting in person, the therapist and patient conduct the therapy session through a digital platform, such as a video conferencing tool.
During an EMDR telehealth session, the therapist coaches the patient through bilateral sensory experiences while encouraging them to recall and process targeted memories or experiences. The therapist monitors the patient’s emotional and physical responses and adjusts the therapy approach as needed. EMDR telehealth typically involves a series of sessions, with the number of sessions varying depending on the patient’s needs and goals. After each session, the therapist might ask the patient to engage in specific self-care activities to reinforce the therapeutic gains.
Factors to Consider When Deciding Between Telehealth and In-Person EMDR Therapy
The decision between telehealth and in-person EMDR therapy depends on several factors, such as location, transportation, safety, comfort level, and the therapist’s availability and expertise with telehealth.
EMDR therapy, telehealth or in-person, requires commitment. So, when deciding which option is best for you, there are some tips to help you:
Reflect on Your Needs and Preferences
Contemplate what makes you feel most comfortable and safe and what environment best supports your healing journey:
- Can you travel to a therapist’s office for in-person sessions?
- Would telehealth be more accessible due to distance or mobility issues?
- Do you have access to reliable transportation to attend in-person sessions?
- Would telehealth save you time and money on travel expenses?
Research Therapists Who Offer Both Types of Sessions
Look for therapists who offer telehealth and in-person sessions and who have experience providing EMDR therapy via telehealth. Check their credentials and reviews to ensure they are qualified and have a positive reputation.
Try a Few Sessions of Each Type Before Committing
Consider trying a few sessions of telehealth and in-person EMDR therapy to see which one feels most effective and comfortable for you.
Be Open to Adjusting Your Approach as Needed
Overall, EMDR telehealth sessions provide a convenient and accessible way for individuals to receive EMDR therapy while still benefiting from the structured and evidence-based approach that this therapy offers. However, it is essential to note that telehealth sessions may not be appropriate for all patients or every type of trauma. Individuals should consult a licensed therapist to determine whether this approach is correct. Remember that your needs and preferences may change, and adjusting your process is okay.