An In-Depth Guide to Self-Administered EMDR Therapy at Home 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a transformative approach that has significantly impacted trauma treatment. Typically conducted under the watchful eye of a trained therapist in a clinical setting, EMDR employs bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or tactile stimuli, to aid individuals in processing and diminishing the distress from traumatic memories. As accessing therapists can sometimes be challenging, there's growing interest in the possibility of self-administered EMDR at home. This blog aims to provide an in-depth guide to self-EMDR, but always remember that it should be undertaken with the support and guidance of a mental health professional.

Understanding EMDR

The principle underlying EMDR is that our bodies and minds have an innate ability to heal from psychological trauma, much like they recover from physical trauma. By making connections between the traumatic memory and healthier, more adaptive information, EMDR therapy helps activate this natural healing process.

An EMDR session involves eight phases: history-taking, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and re-evaluation. The therapy's core involves focusing on the traumatic memory while receiving bilateral stimulation, such as following the therapist's fingers with your eyes.

Self-Administered EMDR at Home: Considerations and Limitations

Self-EMDR should never replace therapy with a trained professional. This process can be complex, and professional guidance is crucial to ensure the safe and effective use of this powerful therapeutic technique. Additionally, self-EMDR may not be suitable for individuals with certain psychiatric conditions or complex trauma.

However, self-EMDR can be a beneficial tool for maintaining progress between therapy sessions or for individuals with limited access to professional resources.

Guidelines for Self-Administered EMDR


- Work with a Therapist: Prior to beginning self-EMDR, it's vital to work with an EMDR-trained therapist who can guide you through the process, even remotely. They can assess your suitability for self-EMDR, instruct you on the correct techniques, provide necessary support, and monitor your progress.

- Learn Stress Management Techniques: Having effective stress management and self-soothing techniques in place before beginning self-EMDR is essential. The process can evoke intense emotions and physical sensations. Being able to ground yourself and manage any arising distress is key.

- Create a Safe Space: Designate a quiet, private space where you feel secure and undisturbed. This will help you concentrate better and feel more comfortable exploring your memories and feelings.

- Use an EMDR App or Tool: There are various self-EMDR tools available that guide you through bilateral stimulation. EMDR apps often feature adjustable settings for the speed and type of bilateral stimulation, enabling you to tailor your experience.

- Begin with Small Issues: Starting self-EMDR by addressing minor issues or everyday stressors rather than significant traumas can provide a gentler introduction. For instance, you could focus on a recent argument with a friend or the stress of an upcoming deadline at work. As you concentrate on the stressful event, follow the bilateral stimulation provided by your EMDR tool. Remember to maintain the dual focus on the stressful event and the stimulation throughout. This gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with the process and its effects on you without overwhelming yourself with major traumas.

- Limit Sessions: Keep your self-EMDR sessions brief (20-30minutes) and do not practice excessively. It's crucial to allow time for your mind to process and integrate the material.

- Always Close Properly: Ensure every EMDR session, whether self-administered or with a therapist, ends with a 'closure' phase to help you return to a state of calm and safety. This could involve grounding techniques, meditation, or revisiting a 'safe place' in your mind.

- Monitor Your Feelings: Keeping a journal to document your feelings and thoughts during and after sessions can provide valuable insight and can be shared with your therapist.

- Regular Check-ins with Your Therapist: Regularly discuss your self-EMDR practice with your therapist to troubleshoot any issues, monitor progress, and ensure safety.


While self-EMDR can serve as a useful supplement to therapy, it's crucial to remember that it isn't a substitute for professional mental health services. EMDR, when administered incorrectly, may result in increased distress or ineffective treatment.

The power of EMDR lies not only in the eye movements or bilateral stimulation but also in its comprehensive, phased approach, facilitating thorough and safe trauma processing. Therefore, a collaborative approach with a trained EMDR professional is fundamental.

As we continue to navigate the challenges of accessing mental health services, self-EMDR represents a potential tool for supporting therapeutic progress. However, it must be approached with care, understanding, and, most importantly, professional guidance.