EMDR's Dual Attention Stimulation

BILATERAL DUAL ATTENTION STIMULATION (commonly referred to as DAS) is a unique technique used for EMDR desensitization, reprocessing, and installation of positive resources. It is a “bilateral stimulation” during “dual attention.” 

Bilateral stimulation refers to the rhythmic side-to-side pattern of external cues that can be visual, auditory, or tactile in nature. The original technique was visual and involved following the therapist’s fingers with your eyes as the therapist moved his/her hand from side to side across your line of vision (hence the “EM-Eye Movement” in EMDR).

Since then, auditory and tactile mechanisms have been introduced. In my practice, I have found that most clients choose the combination of tactile and auditory over using just one of them or the eye movements. The settings of the audio/tactile equipment have a wide range of adjustability.

  • Tactile: You hold a vibrating pulser in each hand or put one under each knee
  • Auditory: You listen to sounds via headphones
  • The combination of both, during which the sound and the tactile modes are synchronized: As the pulser in your right hand vibrates, you hear a sound in your right ear; then, the stimulation switches to your left hand and left ear
  • The volume of the sounds, the intensity of the pulsers, and the speed at which stimulation switches from side to side are all adjustable (from a setting of 1 to a setting of 9), which means that we are able to determine what works best for each client

Dual attention refers to the fact that you are focusing simultaneously on the tactile and/or auditory stimulation AND specific elements of the disturbing memories (which are now in your working memory due to the focus). It is believed that this dual attention and the bilateral stimulation of the brain help restart the brain’s information processing. 

For details on how DAS is used during treatment, go to the 8-Phase Treatment Protocol section.