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What Is Self Emdr And How To Performed It

Self EMDR, a transformative therapeutic approach, harnesses the power of Self EMDR to promote healing and emotional well-being. With Self EMDR, individuals can embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-healing, utilizing Self EMDR techniques to process and release past traumas and negative emotions.

Alexander McCaslin
Jan 19, 20241710 Shares44989 Views
Self EMDR(Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a therapeutic modality designed to decrease and potentially eliminate negative emotions and thoughts related to traumatic experiences. It is a controversial issue, and opinions from experts have identified both positive and negative aspects of self-administered EMDR.
There is a strong possibility that you are at least familiar with the acronym EMDR (which stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), mainly if you are active in the fields of mental healthor popular culture.
The treatment method has been available since the late 1980s, but in the past few years, it has been increasingly popular, in part because of certain notable celebrities who have spoken out in support of it. In this article, we will be discussing the self EMDR with its potential risks and benefits.

How To Do Self Emdr ?

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Woman Covering Her Face
You merely follow the same procedures for self-administered EMDR; you just don't need the therapist! Thus, to sum up the crucial actions in the formal protocol, you have to identify the following things:
  • A particular image or scene that most embodies the traumatic incident you are trying to heal from. It's your "target" here.
  • A detrimental or unproductive belief connected to the traumatic experience. For instance, "I am a bad person because I messed up," "I am worthless," or "I am helpless."
  • An alternate, healthful, and optimistic belief that you would want to have. This belief needs to be in line with current social norms. It should feel true, too, at least to your wiser, more reasonable self these days. For instance, let's say you were the victim of an attack and developed the unfavorable mindset that "I'm in danger." You might substitute that with the affirmation, "I'm safe now."
While exposing yourself to bilateral stimulation, keep your attention on your target, the unpleasant memory, incident, or whatever it is. Consider observing a dot on a screen that is traveling from left to right. Be very aware of all the unfavorable thoughts, unsettling feelings, and odd physical sensations that surface.
Note any new ideas, associations, or feelings you have, as well as any pleasant, harmful, or neutral reactions you have to the processing. You "digest" or analyze the thoughts, feelings, and visions that arise in connection with the trauma throughout this phase. We refer to this phase as "desensitization." You keep doing this until the target stops causing you emotional distress.
After your target has become desensitized, you may start the "installation step." Once more, stimulate both sides of your body while concentrating on your goal. However, at this point, you also strive to overcome the initial negative thought by concentrating on your positive belief.
You might try switching back and forth between the two thoughts in your head while focusing more on the positive belief to achieve this. Continue doing this until the new belief becomes "installed" and the old, unfavorable belief is gone.

Is Self EMDR Effective?

Self-administered EMDR, where individuals attempt to perform the technique on their own, has gained popularity, but its effectiveness remains a topic of debate within the mental healthcommunity.
Self-administered EMDR may offer some benefits for individuals who are unable to access professional therapyor who prefer a more self-directed approach to managing their trauma-related symptoms. Some individuals report reduced distress and improved symptoms after using self-EMDR techniques.
However, it's important to note that EMDR is a complex and nuanced therapy that requires a deep understanding of trauma, memory processing, and therapeutic techniques. Self EMDR may lack the personalized guidance and expertise that a trained therapist can provide, potentially leading to suboptimal outcomes or even retraumatization for some individuals.
Self-administered EMDR may be helpful for some individuals as a complementary tool for managing trauma-related symptoms, especially when professional therapy is inaccessible. However, it is essential to approach self-EMDR with caution.
Woman Covering Her Face
Woman Covering Her Face

What Is The Risk Of Doing EMDR Without A Therapist?

Many people caution you against using EMDR alone since it might lead to retraumatization. Alternatively, you run the danger of bringing volatile things to light. For now, let's see how to reduce the dangers associated with self-administered EMDR:
Please don't do it until you are somewhat comfortable and steady in your life. Make sure nothing demanding is scheduled for the remainder of the day or the following days. EMDR is not a magic bullet that instantly reduces anxiety, depression, or other negative emotions. It's more of something you do when you want to focus on resolving your emotional problems permanently and don't feel very horrible.
If you see a therapist on a regular basis, even if they don't use EMDR, you may simply do self-administered EMDR soon before your appointment so that you can speak with them straight away.
When performing EMDR with a friend or trusted individual, you can also have them act as the therapist by having them wave a finger in front of your eyes in place of, say, seeing a moving dot on a screen. One significant benefit of this is that your companion can always see if you're still "there at the moment" and that your eyes are still following the signal.
The primary way a therapist ensures the safety of EMDR is as follows: When your eyes don't follow the moving finger, they inspect your eyes and notify you, speak with you, or bring you back to the present. In this manner, indeed, you won't become "lost in thought" about anything that comes up during EMDR.
EMDR may be compared, in a sense, to a form of meditation in which the other person observes you to make sure you are focused and not daydreaming. However, a licensed therapist is not necessary for this.

What Are Self Administered EMDR Programs?

The process of using EMDR procedures to oneself without the assistance of a qualified therapist is known as self-administered EMDR. Self-administered EMDR enables patients to participate in the therapy process on their own, whereas standard EMDR sessions entail a therapist directing the eye movements.
It enables people to take charge of their recovery process and enjoy the conveniences of EMDR therapy in the privacyof their own homes. Numerous online tools are available on websites like YouTube to support self-administered EMDR.
Many movies use bilateral stimulation, which resembles the finger motions used by EMDR therapists to guide patients to concentrate on a particular painful memory. In order to get a similar effect, viewers are often directed by the videos to follow moving dots across the screen.
A structured program is also offered by online self-administered EMDR programs that may be purchased. Virtual EMDR is a well-liked alternative that is free to try out. The user is guided step-by-step through self-administered EMDR by this application. Veterans and first responders may use it for free, and the business is offering a free trial.

Self EMDR Techniques

Self-administered EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) techniques are methods that individuals can use on their own to mimic some aspects of EMDR therapy.
While it's important to note that self-help techniques cannot fully replace the expertise and guidance of a trained EMDR therapist, they may offer some individuals a way to manage stress and process traumatic memories. Here are a few self-EMDR techniques you can explore:

Bilateral Stimulation

EMDR often involves rhythmic bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements) to help process distressing memories. You can try self-administered bilateral stimulation by alternately tapping your knees or shoulders or by using audio tracks that play alternating sounds or tones in each ear. There are also various smartphone apps and online tools that offer bilateral stimulation exercises.

Guided Self-Help Resources

Some therapists and EMDR organizations provide self-help materials, including books, worksheets, and audio recordings that guide individuals through EMDR-like processes. These materials can help structure your self-guided EMDR work.

Mindfulness And Relaxation Techniques

Incorporating mindfulness and relaxation exercises can help create a safe and grounding environment for self-EMDR. Techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can be used before and after focusing on traumatic memories.


Writing about your traumatic experiences can be a way to process your emotions and memories. You can use a journal to document your feelings, thoughts, and reactions related to the traumatic event. This process can help with reflection and insight.


Some people find it helpful to use guided imagery or visualization techniques to revisit and reprocess traumatic memories. Visualization can be combined with relaxation and grounding exercises to create a sense of safety during the process.

EMDR Inspired Apps

There are mobile apps and online tools that aim to replicate EMDR techniques. These apps often use bilateral stimulation, such as moving dots on a screen, to facilitate self-guided EMDR sessions. Be cautious and research these apps to ensure they are from reputable sources and that they align with your needs.
It's essential to recognize the limitations of self-administered EMDR techniques. They lack the expertise and support of a trained therapist, and they may not be suitable for everyone. If you have significant trauma-related symptoms, it's strongly recommended to seek professional help from a licensed therapist who is trained in EMDR therapy.
They can provide a comprehensive assessment and develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
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Women's Pink Off-shoulder Blouse

Types Of EMDR Devices

In EMDR therapy, bilateral stimulation is a key component used to help individuals process traumatic memories and desensitize the associated distress. As mentioned, there are three primary types of EMDR devices used to deliver bilateral stimulation: visual, auditory, and tactile. Here's an explanation of each type:

Visual Bilateral Stimulation

Visual bilateral stimulation involves the use of visual cues that move horizontally or vertically. The most common form of visual bilateral stimulation is the therapist moving their fingers or a hand-held light source back and forth in front of the client's eyes. The client follows this movement with their eyes.
The side-to-side or up-and-down eye movements are thought to mimic the rapid eye movement (REM) phase during sleep, which is when the brain processes memories. This eye movement is believed to help the client access and process traumatic memories more effectively.

Auditory Bilateral Stimulation

Auditory bilateral stimulation is achieved through alternating sounds presented in each ear. This can be done using stereo headphones or similar audio equipment. Sounds typically include tones or simple auditory cues that alternate between the left and right ear.
The alternating sounds are believed to stimulate both hemispheres of the brain and promote the processing of distressing memories.

Tactile Bilateral Stimulation

Tactile bilateral stimulation involves the physical sensation of touch, typically in the form of tapping or holding small devices that vibrate and alternate between the left and right sides of the body. This may include tapping on the client's shoulders, knees, or hands in an alternating pattern.
Tactile stimulation can help some individuals focus their attention and achieve a state of dual awareness, where they can simultaneously hold the distressing memory in mind while engaging with the sensory input, facilitating processing.

Can You Use EMDR Devices At Home?

It's acceptable to suggest that using an EMDR device could be required for self-administered EMDR. You will require manual bilateral stimulation, which can only be given by a therapist if there are no gadgets.
However, you require a device to proceed through the processing step and apply bilateral stimulation on yourself because you are the one delivering the therapy on your own. For example, you may direct your eye movements using a light bar in front of you. You may adjust the pace, brightness, and color of the light.
To resume your session, click the start button. You have complete control over the session; you can even alter the settings whenever you'd like. To safely and successfully finish this crucial phase of EMDR therapy, you can also employ different gadgets for the same reason.
Utilizing these gadgets at home is simple and secure. There will be a learning curve, though, as you must first ascertain the precise operation of the device and how to make use of it throughout your session.
Although virtual tools are also available for bilateral stimulation, a physical instrument might be more advantageous. With a controlling device in your palm, you can better manage it as you sit on the sofa and concentrate on your innermost sensations, thoughts, and emotions. When using a computer screen, you don't need to sit up all the time because the tool is there in front of you.
Remember that the utilization is also dependent on the EMDR virtual tool you are utilizing. The ideal method to make sure your self-administered treatment goes well is to utilize a complete virtual EMDR tool, such as ours, which offers an extensive toolset for finishing EMDR therapy in your comfort zone.
You don't need to do anything because the gadgets are integrated into the virtual treatment program. If not, there is a lot of work to be done before treatment, which may be confusing and upsetting for the individual who is already going through a lot.
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Woman in Black Long Sleeve Shirt

Effectiveness Of EMDR Therapy

Numerous mental health issues may benefit from EMDR treatment, according to research. According to a review, EMDR may be more beneficial than trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for reducing the suffering brought on by traumatic experiences.
Because of this, EMDR is suggested as a potential treatment for PTSD by both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Psychological Association.
EMDR treatment was proven to be both safe and effective in treating PTSD in individuals with psychotic disorders in a short pilot trial. The course of therapy improved self-esteem and reduced anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Panic Disorder

In treating panic disorder symptoms and enhancing patients' quality of life, a 2017 study compared the efficacy of EMDR with CBT and found that EMDR is equally beneficial.


According to certain studies, EMDR can be used to cure depression. In one research, about 70% of patients receiving EMDR therapy experienced complete remission of their depressive symptoms.


An analysis of research revealed that EMDR was helpful in the treatment of psychosis. Additional investigation is necessary to ascertain the effectiveness and possible advantages of this application.

Signs Of Trauma

EMDR does alleviate symptoms in patients with psychosis, unipolar depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and chronic back pain, according to a 2017 assessment of published research on the therapy's efficacy.

Non-Traumatic Symptoms

The research also discovered data supporting the potential benefits of EMDR as a stand-alone treatment for chronic pain patients and as a means of addressing other non-traumatic symptoms associated with mood disorders.

Self Emdr - FAQs

Can You Perform EMDR On Yourself?

Self-administering EMDR oneself is feasible; however, it's not always advised.

What Is The Difference Between EMD And EMDR?

For many patients, EMDR is a suggested course of treatment; however, those who are pregnant, have vision issues or have neurological diseases should speak with their doctor before beginning sessions.

Who Is EMDR Not Suitable For?

Compared to EMD, EMDR enables a more thorough reprocessing of the client's system.


Self EMDR is a debated approach with both potential benefits and risks. While it offers a self-directed way to address traumatic memories and negative beliefs, it lacks the expertise and personalized guidance of a trained therapist. Caution is necessary, as self EMDR may not be suitable for everyone.
Devices like light bars, audio tracks, and tactile tools can facilitate self-administered EMDR, but individuals should thoroughly understand their operation. It's crucial to ensure stability and adequate time for self-administered sessions, and coordinating with a therapist or a trusted observer can enhance safety and effectiveness.
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