Is online EMDR therapy effective?
For most people, there is naturally an understandable apprehension about the idea of doing therapy online as it doesn't feel quite the same as working with a therapist in person. To be honest, I felt the same as a therapist and so was initially rather apprehensive about the thought of providing online EMDR therapy! However, the recent challenging circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that we as a society have had to adjust and adapt to the constraints that the health crisis has brought on us, and in the process, find new ways of dealing with problems and going about our lives.
There is this perception among us that online therapy lacks that "human connection" that is found when being with a therapist in their room. While I agree that the physical presence and proximity between the client and therapist can have a certain therapeutic benefit, I have been pleasantly surprised at the results with online therapy that I have obtained personally (from receiving therapy as a client) and professionally (from my work with clients). There is no question that face-to-face therapy remains the gold standard as that provides the best opportunity for intimacy, safety and ability to "read" each other, but I have certainly found that online EMDR therapy can provide similar results!
Where online EMDR therapy is concerned, it is not uncommon for people to wonder how such a specialised form of therapy can be carried out properly online since it involves doing "eye movements". The truth is it can! All that is required are some adjustments and clever use of technology to make online EMDR therapy work just as well. In fact, in most cases, I have found that it is actually EASIER to do online EMDR therapy than many other kinds of online psychological therapy as the process for the most part is more targeted, structured and focused on the bilateral stimulation (i.e. eye movements) and feelings that come up. The only caveat is that for online EMDR therapy to be effective, certain requirements need to be met. (I discuss this in detail in the section "Requirements for online EMDR therapy"). As long as these requirements can be satisfied, I have found from my experience with clients that very similar results can be achieved for online EMDR therapy as compared to face-to-face EMDR therapy. This I believe speaks for the robustness of EMDR therapy itself as it is able to produce good results despite being used in different settings.
How is online/remote EMDR therapy conducted?
Online EMDR therapy is conducted in pretty much the same way as face-to-face EMDR therapy, except that some minor adjustments will need to be made in relation to how the bilateral stimulation movements are carried out. As with face-to-face EMDR therapy, the same THREE methods of doing bilateral stimulation (i.e. using eye movements, bilateral tapping and auditory tones) can be used in an online EMDR therapy session. With the exception of bilateral tapping (which is self-administered), eye movements and auditory tones will be carried out using a simple therapist-controlled computer program that will be explained to you.
Why choose online/remote EMDR therapy?
Having online EMDR therapy can be just as effective as doing it in person (if you are able to meet the requirements listed here).
You can have therapy from the comfort and safety of familiar surroundings (i.e. your own home). This can be particularly helpful when you are processing trauma.
You save on travelling time and costs (especially if you live further away).
You can engage in therapy from anywhere in the world (as long as you have a stable internet connection).
Medicare rebates for online/remote EMDR therapy appointments
From Monday 30 March 2020 through to 31 Mar 2021, ALL Australians will be eligible for the same Medicare benefits for online (Telehealth) psychology appointments as with face-to-face appointments. (Please keep in mind that the limit of 10 Medicare sessions per calendar year will still apply.)
In addition, due to increased movement restrictions in Victoria, Medicare has recently introduced another 10 rebatable sessions accessible between 7 August 2020 and 31 March 2021. (Please note that you will need to meet eligibility criteria in order to access the additional 10 sessions.)