Summary of key points just gone out to new Online EMDR Google Group in the UK

Hi – welcome to this Google group for exchanging ideas and questions on how best to use EMDR online – a rapidly growing field, especially now with the Corona virus.

The group was set up a few years ago now but didn’t really take off. Its time however may now have come, so interested colleagues are welcome to try again to join, with the usual request that all contributions are respectful, kind and tolerant.

Note that this group is separate from and independent of the EMDR UK Association, and starts out with just the necessary moderation. Anyone trained in the use of EMDR is welcome.

To complement Alexandra Dent’s excellent summary note that can be shared with clients, we have a fair bit of background info on our EMDR Focus website.

Some basic bullet points for colleagues wanting to get going in short order. Above all, don’t be afraid. Online EMDR works brilliantly, so with a bit of courage and time to learn this, do jump in…  

  • Like Alexandra, we prefer Zoom as the best online platform. Personal accounts are free for unlimited one-to-one calls. If you want to include more than one other participant, individual calls are limited to 40 minutes unless you have a professional account (costs less than £10 a month, and well worth it in our experience).
  • We ask clients to position their laptops/computers/smartphones high enough to allow eye contact at more or less normal levels, not looking up each other’s nostrils. For the therapist, this is essential.
  • Make sure neither of you has a light source behind the head, as this darkens the face.
  • Sit far enough back from your screen so that the client can see most of your upper body and not just your face.
  • For BLS, we generally ask clients to download BSDR Player from AppStore/Google Play (less than £10), and operate the audio taps themselves, with ear buds connected to their smartphone.
  • You can also use butterfly hugs, which never fail, or clients can view 10′ of EMs/audio tones on YouTube here. Needs restarting when it reaches the end, otherwise YouTube goes to the next video.
  • Mark Grant has various BLS apps for smartphones, and these are also excellent.
  • Clients should be asked to ensure that doors are closed, they have tissues at hand and that they won’t be disturbed for the hour. Online work can be just as powerful as face-to-face in terms of emotions.
  • I’m often asked about dissociation and abreaction, and what to do when/if this happens. I find working online no different in that regard to working face-to-face, and with all the usual precautions have not so far had any problems.
  • Back to Zoom, make sure in the settings (take some time to scroll through all the options once you’ve signed up) that you have end-to-end encryption enabled.
  • I use a virtual background with a green screen, allowing me to uploaded images (a bookshelf is my favourite, though one can also use images of peaceful open spaces) to replace my drab office background. If you have a good enough computer, Zoom also allows you to use a digital/virtual background, again to be experimented with.
  • Whatever you do, make sure the client sees a background that does not disturb the work and contains nothing inappropriately personal.
  • I’d suggest checking this out and experimenting with an EMDR colleague before you go live. Indeed, might be an idea to test drive a sample session with a colleague in this way so you can both learn.
  • With a free Zoom account you can record sessions, with permission, to your local computer (and use DropBox or OneDrive/GoogleDrive to share these with clients if they wish). With a pro account, these can also be recorded to the cloud, though the storage there runs out quickly.
  • With Zoom you can share your own screen very easily, using the big green button at the bottom of the relevant window, for example to share a document (ITQ or PCL5 etc) or even show a video. Zoom allows you to share your own sound, very usefully. Just make sure you don’t inadvertently let your client see other documents or pages you might have open – Zoom allows you to choose which window to share, so don’t just share the desktop.
  • Absolutely essential that you both have a good internet connection. And a mobile on hand (standard call or WhatsApp) to call the client should the connection go down. Zoom is pretty good on the whole, but things can and do go wrong.
  • It is in my experience much better not to rely on the mic and speakers in your laptop, as this can generate extraneous noise.
  • Make sure to check microphone input and headphone output through the Mic icon on the bottom left of the Zoom screen. Make sure that Zoom has access to both mic and camera. You might need to coach your client through this process.
  • Especially if you’re using Apple products, which can be more difficult to manage on a group call than Windows, you/they will probably need to enter your password to enable sound.
  • You can of course also use Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime etc, but we don’t find these on the whole work so well.
  • Make sure that your sessions are well structured, and that if you’re working with a vulnerable child ego state you don’t leave that child locked away in an abusive situation. Even more importantly than working face-to-face, it’s essential that we end each session well, if necessary encouraging the client to collect their little self from the target situation and take them home. Remembering that we’re working on memories not on events that are continuing, so container and vault exercises must be careful not to leave unprocessed and active material locked away between sessions.
  • Final thought. In the East Anglia Regional Group we’ve recalibrated our next networking day, Saturday April 25 originally focusing on EMDR with intergenerational trauma, to take place online instead of in Ely, and to include a first part of the day dedicated to using EMDR Online. Colleagues are welcome to sign up here, and unlike with doing this in person, there won’t be a limit on how many folk we’ll be able to accommodate. Proceeds go to the regional group.

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