Bilateral music is any type of music that is edited to constantly move back and forth from the left to the right side of your headphones. It was first created for use with bilateral psychotherapy techniques such as EMDR. Now, however, it is used to relax, reduce anxiety, enhance sports performance, improve study habits, increase memory and retention, assist with healing from strokes and more.

Headphones help move the sound directly from one side of your head to the other.  Without headphones, the sound is less focused and, therefore, less effective.

What is the purpose of bilateral music?

Bilateral music is used in some types of psychological therapies such as EMDR and Brainspotting. These are both examples of mind body therapy – a cluster of therapies that recognize our tendency to hold stress or trauma within the physical body. 

You might recognize this when a stressful situation gives you a stomach ache. The more severe the stress or trauma, the more severe can be the physical reaction to the emotional state.

woman with cap headphones cropped

Integrative therapies that work with both the mind and the body might use bilateral music to calm and relax the body while more stressful emotional situations are being considered.


Other uses for bilateral music

Because bilateral music calms the mind and the body, it allows the user to relax, to focus and concentrate more easily.

  • Bilateral music is a perfect background for studying since it helps remove anxiety. 
  • It can be used during meditation because it helps you concentrate. 
  • Use it to help you fall asleep when something is worrying you or keeping you awake.
  • Playing upbeat bilateral music can help athletes train by helping them focus more easily.
  • Bilateral music can help you overcome performance anxiety for public speaking, test anxiety, or any anxiety that troubles you.

How do you use bilateral music?

Typically, in a therapy session, the therapist will ask the client to wear a pair of headphones.  Bilateral music is played at a very low volume so the client is still able to hear the therapist. 

The music doesn’t need to be loud since your brain will perceive the sound even when it’s nearly below the hearing range.

This is the same way you would use bilateral music for any of the uses above.  Just pop the music on with a pair of headphones, set the volume to a low volume and go ahead with the activity. 

Try bilateral music now!



Bilateral music can be designed to move obviously from left to right as in this example. Some people find the gentle rocking motion of the music to be relaxing.

Gentle Surf

Bilateral Music can also be designed with a track overlay that masks the sound movement. Some people find this masked form less distracting.

What does bilateral music do to your brain?

If you are a healing professional you understand that stimulating the different hemispheres of the brain produces different effects.

As the music moves from one ear to the other ear, it stimulates the right brain when it plays in the left ear and the left brain when it plays in the right ear. The left and right hemispheres of the brain perform different functions.  In a simplified explanation, the right brain may handle more emotional information while the left brain handles more logical information.

The movement of music from one ear to the other, alternates the stimulation of the two hemispheres which may produce an integrative effect.  It helps you process information more quickly and helps you stay out of an anxious reaction about the information being processed.