This is a review of the phone app Anxiety Release. The app was designed by a clinical psychologist, and it uses a form of EMDR to release anxiety, in just one or two sessions. 

Bilateral stimulation is stimuli (visual, auditory or tactile) which occur in a rhythmic left-right pattern. For example, visual bilateral stimulation could involve watching a hand or moving light alternating from left to right and back again. Auditory bilateral stimulation could involve listening to tones that alternate between the left and right sides of the head. Bilateral stimulation is a treatment element of EMDR. It was discovered accidentally by Francine Shapiro Ph.D. as she was walking in a park in the late 1980’s. As she was walking Shapiro She noticed that some distressing feelings she was having about a particular situation suddenly ceased. When she reflected back on what happened, she remembered that she had experienced some spontaneous saccadic eye movements (kind of rapid blinking). This led her to experiment further and the discovery that when a person deliberately focuses on a distressing memory, and then concentrates on bilateral stimulation, their distress is reduced. Moreover, the distressing memory seems to become less distressing in a long-term way. This discovery led to the development of EMDR.

There are many theories regarding how bilateral stimulation works. My favorite involves the orienting reflex. The orienting reflex is simply the natural tendency for your nervous system to orient itself to new stimuli. The evolutionary implications of this are obvious – is that rustling sound a saber-toothed tiger or just the wind in the grass? So when your nervous system is subject to bilateral stimulation, your attention is naturally diverted to that, and whatever was in your mind before gets shunted to one side. Normally after a few moments, once your brain realizes you’re not facing a saber-toothed tiger, your attention returns to the previous subject. This also known as habituation – habituation is when we cease responding to a stimuli.

Habituation does not occur with bilateral stimulation – your brain just can’t turn away from it (some people actually find this a bit irritating but hey, take your pick). As a result of your attention being held captive by the bilateral stimulation, two things happen. 1) You can’t think of the problem and 2) you start to feel relaxed. This leads to changes in the way the memory of the problem is stored through what’s known as  non-associative learning. Non-associative learning is a change in a response to a stimulus that does not involve associating the presented stimulus with another stimulus or event such as reward or punishment.[4] (Examples of associative learning include classical conditioning and operant conditioning).

My counselor, a Licensed Professional Counselor who is childhood trauma informed and trained, and a pioneer in the field of EMDR recommend this app to me several months ago. We had done extensive EMDR work, so I was a little skeptical that I could have a professional grade EMDR app for $5.00. It was the best $5.00 I ever spend. I had success in just one session. You can use the app without headphones, but your best results will be using headphones. There are multiple guided sessions in the app, and there are not ads, nothing else to buy. In my experience with the guided session, the male voice and beeps are kind of harsh. The other is a woman's voice and the beeps are musical notes, which seem a lot more soothing. The app is also a value because some people are indigent, or otherwise cannot afford EMDR therapy.

I give this app two enthusiastic thumbs up. Here is more information on the app:

Anxiety Release app demo

How EMDR inspired me to make this appHow this app harnesses your brains innate sensory processing abilities to de-activate anxietyHow this app can help you a...

Anxiety Release | Home of The Anxiety Release App Now Available - iTunes and Android

Welcome to Anxiety Release, the home of a brain-based approach to overcoming anxiety. Based on EMDR, Anxiety Release works by stimulating the brain with bilateral stimulation (alternating audio and/or visual stimuli ), which captures attention processes and diverts emotional resources.