EMDR counseling is a remarkable tool being utilized by therapists to treat a growing number of different psychological conditions. Mental health professionals, psychologists, and clinical therapists are all embracing the many benefits of EMDR treatment.
As such, the popularity of EMDR counseling comes with a common question often debated among professionals working in the mental health field – Does an EMDR therapist need to undergo the full process of certification or are basic training sessions all that is needed?
This article will provide an in-depth look at the objectives of EMDR training along with the differences between Trained-EMDR therapists and Certified-EMDR therapists. For more general information about Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, read “EMDR Explained“.
EMDR counseling is an evidence-based therapy designed to help manage the negative thoughts and feelings commonly associated with traumatic memories. Though PTSD treatment and trauma are the most common applications for EMDR therapy, it can be applied to much more.
EMDR training prepares therapists to effectively use EMDR Therapy through lectures, demonstrations, videos, mentoring, practicing, and other useful tools. The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) developed standards that accomplish its EMDR Training Learning Objectives for an adequate level of experience, as defined below:
- Learn various applications for EMDR counseling as treatment for PTSD, trauma, and other specialized needs.
- Become familiar with the 8 Phases of EMDR Therapy beyond a general understanding of its use.
- Discover how EMDR works and why it is a useful treatment option.
- Learn how to develop a thorough treatment plan for trauma counseling.
- Learn how to promote proper trauma processing for patients.
- Learn how to properly utilize Bilateral Stimulation (Dual Attention Stimulation) during treatment.
- Discover proper safety techniques for clients seeking trauma therapy.
- Learn how EMDR counseling can be applied to specialized treatment for anxiety, sexual assault, grief, addiction, substance abuse, phobias, and more.
- Learn how to integrate EMDR Therapy into an established clinical setting.
Accomplishing these objectives generally takes place in multiple parts across approximately 6 months time. Once complete, the licensed therapist will receive an EMDR Training Certificate of Completion and be permitted to provide EMDR counseling.
To receive EMDR Certification, therapists that have completed the initial training program must also successfully accomplish an additional list of criteria. Official EMDR-certified therapists also complete the following responsibilities:
- Be a licensed mental health professional able to practice independently.
- Become a registered member of the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA).
- Consult with an approved consultant in EMDR for an additional 20 hours
- Minimum of 10 hours must be in an individual setting.
- Up to 10 hours may be obtained in a small group setting.
- Complete at least 50 EMDR treatment sessions with a minimum of 25 clients.
- Complete 12 hours of CEU’s in EMDR after basic training is complete.
Only once all of the criteria have been met can a mental health professional claim to be a Certified-EMDR Therapist. Additionally, in order to maintain certification a practitioner must complete 12 hours of EMDRIA approved continuing education credits biannually. Obviously this is a rigorous process!
The simple answer to what the difference is between an EMDR-trained therapist and an EMDR-certified therapist is experience and training. Trauma counseling is naturally a strenuous, volatile, and sensitive area in which to practice; thorough preparation is vital. EMDR Certification provides the professional and practical experience necessary to safely use EMDR counseling and achieve lasting results.