What Equipment Do I Use?

Okay, so now I’m trained.  What are those nifty little machines I’ve seen used?

In my experience, the Basic Neurotek Tac/Audioscan is all you need.  It has alternating audio tones as well as alternating vibrating pulsars. The speed of both can be changed, the volume of the tones can be changed, and the strength of the vibration can be altered.

Since I give my little machines a lot of use, I buy the Megapulsars, for a small extra charge.  (pictured) They are a nifty upgrade, because truthfully, these wires frequently fail, and the Megapulsars are designed with removable ends, allowing you to replace the wires for about $10 at Radio Shack or another electronics store. This means, you will never be caught without a working unit.  I buy extra sets of wires to have on hand.

Update for Consultees and Clinicians: If you are making your first purchase from Neurotek Corp., here is the scoop: Basic Neurotek  Tac/Audioscan, have them ADD the Megapulsars, and two extra sets of wires. This way, you have 4 sets of working wires. You will not be sorry when one set fails in the middle of a session.


This original unit comes with rinky-dink headphones that should be thrown away, because they will fail in no time, usually in the middle of a session.  But by plugging a pair of inexpensive computer speakers into the Neurotek, you can do away with headphones altogether, and have audible tones on either end of your couch.

I have found this to be a boon for me and for my clients.  They appreciate not having headphones on their heads, as they feel more comfortable and can hear me better.  Also, as the clinician, YOU get the benefit of BLS when the tones are amplified in the room.  A very simple and elegant solution.  You may need a longer wire than comes with your speakers from a store like Radio Shack, if your client is a long distance from you.

And there is always the WAND.

In my experience Eye Movements are still the best for many clients under many circumstances, and if you don’t have any extra funds, using a wand is by far the cheapest option.  My friend and colleague Philip Manfield shows his classes how to make this simple wand for about $5!  First you buy a telescoping tool with a magnet on the end, at an auto parts store.  Then, you go to a hardware store, and buy a “push nut” in red or white, which adheres nicely to the end of the telescoping tool magnet, because it is lined with steel.  Below is a picture of the very elegant result.

A reader asked, Eye Movements vs. Pulsars…how to decide?

Hi Colleen,
Thanks for posting about the wand. What a great solution! I like it a lot! Makes good sense and will save my shoulder.
I see that you note the eye movements are most effective and I wondered how you decide to use the pulsers/audio rather than the wand. Simply client preference? Use eye movement first and if that is not good then go to the pulsars/audio?

Great question!

The answer is that I ALWAYS start with the wand/eye movement when I am doing trauma processing.  Eye movements are better for trauma, and seem to cause more thorough, less diffuse, less chaotic processing.  The way I understand that, is eye movements are a more difficult dual attention task, and as such, they are more interruptive of old, highly charged, traumatic material. Vibrating pulsars, even combined with alternating tones, are “easier” for clients, and do not interrupt highly charged material as efficiently.  Hence pulsars are SUPERIOR for RESOURCING and eye movements are SUPERIOR for TRAUMA PROCESSING. All that said, there are a few people for whom eye movements are contraindicated: those who feel motion sick when they do eye movements, those who are sight-impaired, and a few others who just don’t like them.

It is really important to talk about a trend that I see happening in the field of EMDR with regards to eye movements.  If you give clients the option–most all will choose the vibrating pulsars–BECAUSE BY DEFINITION THEY ARE EASIER.  Clients frequently say they are soothing. That does not mean they are better. My mentor Philip Manfield, Phd., coaches those he trains to move the wand at a speed that is the maximum the client can tolerate. This is hard for the client to do, and frequently causes eye strain by the end of a session, but this can be ameliorated by taking breaks and resting the eyes.

A few of my clients with very severe trauma and dissociation, now know that eye movements are more effective and ask to use them exclusively.  They know that they are less likely to dissociate when using eye movements, and further, if they do, I can see it immediately and intervene.  With pulsars, a client can be dissociated for most of a whole set, and because their eyes are closed, I won’t know to intervene.

One last note about speed.

Clinicians frequently ask me how fast should BLS be? A rule of thumb I teach my consultees is 2 passes per second for trauma processing, and half that speed for resourcing. Parenthetically, I have noticed when I supervise the practicum in EMDR Part 1 & 2, that if eye movements slow down too much, processing stops.  I offer empathy to my clients that “this is hard work for your eyes” and re-assure them that it is part of what causes EMDR to work, which virtually always takes care of clients’ reluctance.