An Introduction to Bi-Lateral Stimulation (BLS)

Information adapted from publications by Francine Shapiro, PhD and the EMDRIA webpage

Healing, physical and emotional, is a natural process that varies from individual to individual. We may develop timelines to prepare for recovery and utilize interventions to facilitate healing. Ultimately most injuries heal to some degree, sometimes meeting our expectations and satisfaction and at times not.  There are similarities regarding physical and emotional healing but some differences, the most obvious is that healing our bodies is external…bruises fade and disappear, pain decreases, stitches are removed, scars fade, and strength is improved, however; emotional/psychological recovery happens in our brain, the injuries and healing cannot be seen.  Most often our brains heal without complications by weaving recollections of traumatic experiences into the fabric of our lives. 


In the late 1980s Francine Shapiro was a therapist who recognized, because of her own experience, that moving her eyes back and forth while thinking about distressing emotional material helped her feel less upset.  Along with other therapists Dr Shapiro experimented using the bilateral technique that is known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).  Dr. Shapiro and her colleagues developed a protocol to use EMDR to assist individuals struggling with the aftereffects of trauma.  Over time clinicians using EMDR learned that tactile and audio bilateral stimulation (BLS), alternating stimulation from left to right and right to left, can be used in addition to or in place of eye movement.


Healing occurs when the amygdala (the alarm signal for stressful events), the hippocampus (assists with learning, including memories about safety and danger) and the prefrontal cortex (analyzes and controls behavior and emotion) “communicate” to process/resolve traumatic experiences.  The emotions/feelings, physical experiences and sensations and memories associated with the trauma move into and are stored in the prefrontal cortex.   BLS connects and facilitates communication between parts of the brain involved with danger/stress, emotion, and memory.


BLS integrates beliefs, body sensations, emotions, and visual images to decrease, sometimes alleviate, persistent symptoms of psychological conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Additionally, processing trauma decreases symptoms associated with anxiety and depressive disorders.  BLS often brings dramatic, rapid results.


The beauty of BLS is that every person does their own processing, my role is to facilitate and guide the process.  In addition to assisting with the process my aim is to provide a safe space and emotional support.  BLS can be done without describing the event so those who don’t want to verbalize their experience don’t have to, but discussion can be part of the process. 


Using BLS to resolve trauma is empowering…each person heals themselves.  The resolution of trauma offers a path to increased acceptance of the past, contentment with the present and a new perspective to guide the future.


If you are interested in discussing the use of BLS to resolve recent and/or past trauma, please email me at or call 507-289-5110.