It’s truly exciting to see EMDR becoming more prevalent in the therapy world. The efficacy and efficiency of it has been well-researched and published. I personally believe the late Francine Shapiro would have been incredibly awed by the impact of her work.
But...how do you choose an EMDR therapist?
It can be daunting to go through lists of therapists and what works for one friend may not work for another! Below is a list of suggestions I've given friends and figured I'd share with you too as you find the right fit to journey with!
How to choose an EMDR Therapist: Meet and greet
Many clinicians offer a free consult to meet and greet with potential clients – use them!!
Many patients attend the meet and greet and don’t know what to ask – more on that in THIS blog. When meeting a clinician try to feel for the “vibe”, how do they answer your questions?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you feel comfortable.
Research shows that four-fifths of your success in counseling is contingent on your therapeutic rapport – how comfortable and at ease, you feel with your therapist.
The relationship should feel comfortable but focused on you.
Sometimes clinicians will share personal information but ONLY if it is therapeutically impactful for the client. It should not feel like a friendship and you should never be socializing and “hanging out” with your professional counselor – just as you likely wouldn’t with your surgeon!
How to choose an EMDR Therapist: Training
EMDR training is popping up all over the country ensuring that the person you choose for EMDR Therapy is Certified will help you ensure that they are committed to best practices, supervision and ongoing training.
It’s ok to ask your therapist – where and how they did their training. Did an active practicum as part of their training? Did they do it online? Have they done any in person sessions? Are they able to flip between EMDR and psychodynamic therapies as you need?
Experiential training means they have already done the “trial and error” and most likely a senior clinician has been supervising this to give feedback and suggestions.
You could also ask the EMDR Therapist if they are trained in other trauma related approaches such as dissociation.
How to choose an EMDR Therapist: Do they have personal experience with EMDR?
Do they know what it feels like and how it feels to be a clinician? I’d also ask how long their training was and how many hours of supervision they directly received thereafter – the minimum is 10.
A quick weekend training is not ideal. Training that includes dissociation training is highly recommended this ensures that the clinician can support you during a dissociation experience. All trauma is arguably privy to dissociation. The integration of the system that has dissociated is one of the goals.
How to choose an EMDR Therapist: Registration
I can’t emphasize this enough – find out where your therapist is registered and ask them what their annual registration requirements are. This question tells you a few things including if they are serious enough about EMDR to pay the registration fees, ensure they remain registered, are up on what the research is, and most importantly if they have updated training.
How to choose an EMDR Therapist: Community
It’s okto ask your clinician if they attend regular consultation and are engaged in the EMDR community and if so how.
Regular consultation is strongly recommended for clinicians in private practice – it prevents isolation, stagnation, and potential harm to clients (more on how clinicians can cause harm HERE).
Consultation is costly – if your clinician believes enough in regular consultation and is willing to pay the cost of time and finances – they likely are more passionate about best practice – huge bonus to you!!
Regular group consultation also allows your clinician to hear about other cases and how the EMDR community is operating and to learn from their colleagues. Engagement in the EMDR community has a range it can include basic such as minimally being registered with EMDR Canada and attending events with their network coordinator and it can include leading and training EMDR clinicians.
How to choose an EMDR Therapist: EMDR Registration
EMDR Canada invites all trained clinicians to register with them. EMDR Canada is a “branch” of EMDRIA. EMDR-International Association has strict requirements for its registrants. The registration is broken down as follows:
Registered or Canadian Associate – is a registered mental health professional, has completed and passed basic training and consultation
Certified – above plus completed 2 years of providing counseling after graduation, has conducted 50 hours of EMDR with at least 25 clients, has had an approved consultant review their practice, and has provided reference letters of other therapists.
Consultant in training - above plus has submitted an intention to become a consultant and is actively seeking to complete the requirements
Approved Consultant -above plus ensures regular 12 hour trainings and engagement in the EMDR community, has over 3 years of EMDR experience, has completed over 20 hours of consultation of consultation hours, and has been recommended by their consultant.
How to Choose an EMDR Therapist: Passion
The passion question is big to me. If you can’t clearly tell by this point if your clinician loves their work – ask! Ask them what they love about their work and why. Ask them what brought them to their career and why they stay.
This resolves the “give a care” factor – does the clinician actually care about the client or are they clocking in and out?
I hope this helps you in finding a great therapist! I’d love to hear from you if there’s anything on here that I didn’t include and if you need more help book a free meet and greet HERE and I'm happy to chat with you!
1. Both meta-analyses demonstrated the efficacy of EMDR therapy in treating symptoms of PTSD. Both studies concluded that EMDR therapy was more effective in treating symptoms of PTSD than various interventions and control conditions (Chen et al., 2014), including forms of CBT (Chen et al., 2015) Article HERE US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health
Farah M. Kurji is an advanced trained clinician specializing in trauma, loss, anxiety and depression. She includes EMDR, CBT & Yoga among her treatment modalities. Farah also provides clinical consultations and debriefing. You can book with her or her team HERE.