Doing trauma work with a therapist can feel scary. It requires you to explore and process some of the most painful, vulnerable moments of your life. It is not lost on me how terrifying that process can be.

Often when people seek EMDR, they don’t ask a lot of other questions. However, not all therapists trained in EMDR are the same and it’s important to make sure that you land with someone you can trust to guide you through healing the most painful, vulnerable moments of your life.

Here are some important factors to consider when choosing an EMDR Therapist.

 

Factor #1: Is my therapist properly trained in EMDR?

Sadly, EMDR training is not created equal. Recently, I have seen an alarming trend where therapists offer sub-par trainings or even “certifications” in EMDR that are not fully accredited. To find out if a therapist is properly trained in EMDR, I strongly recommend checking the EMDRIA website to see if they are listed. You should be able to determine from the website whether they belong to EMDRIA and whether they are basic-trained or certified.

EMDRIA is a professional association for EMDR practitioners and researchers to seek the highest standards for clinical use of EMDR and was founded by Francine Shapiro whose research is the very foundation of EMDR.

If a therapist is not listed on EMDRIA, this does not mean that they are not trained by an EMDRIA accredited training. It means that they chose not to join EMDRIA. You can ask them if they were trained by an EMDRIA accredited training if they are not listed on the EMDRIA website.

If they were trained elsewhere, I would ask questions about that and be cautious. If they do not know what EMDRIA is, I would very concerned.

 

Factor #2: Is my therapist experienced and comfortable with EMDR?

To find someone with the most extensive experience, ask if they are Certified with EMDRIA or have basic training in EMDR. If they are certified with EMDRIA, they have undergone training, advanced trainings, consultation and have extensive experience offering EMDR. If they have basic training, they have been trained in the basic skills of EMDR and you may want to ask follow up questions like how long they have been using EMDR.

If you are seeing a therapist who is not certified in EMDR, this does not mean they do not have experience. Basic-trained EMDR therapists can also be excellent EMDR therapists. Ask them more about their training in EMDR and how they use it in their practice. It will be very clear by how they talk about EMDR whether they are experienced or not. Ask them about what the process of doing EMDR with them entails and educate yourself on EMDR to make sure that it sounds like EMDR.

Do you know what EMDR is? This article does a really good job of explaining EMDR.

Here’s a video that explains EMDR as well.

It is okay to see someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with EMDR. However, I would ask them if they are getting consultation or are supervised by someone who is certified in EMDR. When new basic-trained EMDR therapists are getting consultation or supervision, you benefit from the wisdom of both your own therapist and the seasoned therapist who is supervising them.

 

Factor #3:  Do you feel comfortable talking to them?

This is the most important factor.

If you feel safe talking to them and feel like they are understanding you, that is a very good sign. The relational component of therapy is critical, especially for EMDR. Having a therapist who gets you and can be flexible depending on your needs in the room is very important to the process.

If you’re interested in exploring EMDR further, we offer EMDR in both weekly sessions and in our EMDR Intensives. We are happy to answer your questions about EMDR and help you find a therapist who is a good fit.

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