EMDR Training & 6 Best Certification Programs

EMDR TrainingEye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has gained significant recognition for its effectiveness in treating trauma-related conditions and other mental health issues (Oren & Solomon, 2012).

As the demand for EMDR-trained therapists continues to rise, so does the need for comprehensive EMDR training programs and certifications.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of EMDR training, including what you can expect from it and the benefits of pursuing professional training. Additionally, we’ll highlight six EMDR training options and resources to support you on your journey toward becoming an EMDR specialist.

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What Is EMDR Training?

Before we get into the details of EMDR training, let’s take a brief look at what EMDR therapy is about. EMDR is a psychotherapy technique designed to alleviate distress associated with traumatic memories (Logie, 2023). In essence, it involves the patient recalling traumatic events while the therapist directs bilateral stimulation, such as side-to-side eye movements, to help reprocess and reduce the emotional impact of those memories.

If you’re unfamiliar with EMDR, you may want to pause here to read Your Ultimate EMDR Guide, which provides an in-depth introduction to EMDR.

EMDR training provides therapists with the comprehensive knowledge, skills, and techniques necessary to effectively implement EMDR therapy in their clinical practice. Training accreditation ensures that therapists receive high-quality, standardized instruction that adheres to established protocols (Laliotis et al., 2021).

In addition, it enhances therapeutic effectiveness, ensures ethical practice, and provides credibility (Hasanović et al., 2021). This helps to more effectively prepare therapists to competently address diverse trauma-related conditions, ultimately improving client outcomes and advancing professional development within the field.

A good grounding training curriculum should thoroughly cover the theoretical foundations of EMDR, methodology, mechanisms of action, treatment planning, and essential ethical considerations (Farrell & Keenan, 2013).

Typically, EMDR training also consists of a combination of didactic instruction, experiential learning, and supervised practice sessions, ensuring that therapists gain hands-on experience and practical insights (Leeds, 2016).

This multifaceted approach to training equips therapists with the ability to apply EMDR techniques confidently and competently (Leeds, 2016).

Benefits of EMDR Professional Training

EMDR Training BenefitsEMDR professional training offers numerous benefits for therapists seeking to expand their clinical expertise and effectively treat trauma and related conditions (Grimmett & Galvin, 2015).

Some key benefits include:

Enhanced therapeutic effectiveness

EMDR therapy has been shown to produce significant and lasting improvements in symptoms of trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues (Oren & Solomon, 2012). This means that EMDR training will ultimately enhance your therapeutic effectiveness and the quality of care you provide clients.

Versatility

EMDR can be adapted to address a wide range of traumatic experiences, including single-incident traumas, complex traumas, and developmental traumas (Valiente-Gómez et al., 2017).

Evidence-based practice

EMDR therapy is supported by a substantial body of research demonstrating its efficacy in treating trauma-related conditions (Solomon et al., 2009). Evidence-based practices ensure that interventions are effective, safe, and grounded in scientific research, leading to better outcomes for individuals (Gray et al., 2007).

Professional development

Completing EMDR training and certification can enhance therapists’ credibility, marketability, and job prospects within the mental health field (Mackinney, 2022).

Personal growth

Engaging in EMDR training can deepen therapists’ understanding of trauma and its effects, cultivate greater empathy and compassion for clients, and foster personal healing and growth (Farrell & Keenan, 2013).

Overall, you can see that EMDR professional training significantly enhances therapeutic effectiveness, offers versatile treatment options, and is supported by extensive research. It also fosters professional development and personal growth, making it a valuable investment for therapists aiming to improve their clinical skills and provide better care for clients.

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What to Expect in EMDR Training

EMDR training programs vary in duration, format, and intensity, so you can find a program that works best for your needs depending on your work context as well as your country or state’s licensing requirements.

We’ll provide a starting point for you in the section that reviews the training options below. In the meantime, let’s look at some general training characteristics you can expect.

Most programs require participants to complete a certain number of hours of training, ranging from basic introductory workshops to advanced certification courses (Farrell & Keenan, 2013).

Training may be conducted in person, online, or in a blended format. As an EMDR training participant, you can expect to engage in role-play, case presentations, and supervised practical sessions to develop your EMDR skills under the guidance of experienced trainers.

Supervision is an integral component of EMDR training and ongoing professional development (Logie, 2023). It provides therapists with feedback, guidance, and support to enhance their clinical skills, ensure adherence to the EMDR protocol, and address any challenges or ethical dilemmas that may arise during therapy.

Following completion of basic training, you may be required to undergo supervision from an approved EMDR consultant or supervisor as you begin implementing EMDR therapy with clients.

The completion of EMDR training and supervision are just the first steps toward proficiency in the therapy, and you will need to adhere to licensing requirements set forth by your professional regulatory body (Leeds, 2016).

Licensing regulations vary by jurisdiction and may include obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree in a mental health field, completing supervised clinical experience, and passing a licensing exam. It’s essential that you familiarize yourself with these requirements in order to ensure compliance.

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EMDR Training Options for Therapists

If you’re interested in pursuing EMDR training, you have several options, and knowing what the best option is can be daunting. We have done some research to find out more and provide you with basic information to get you started.

Before we get into the list of EMDR training programs, here’s what to look out for when choosing a training program:

  1. Good training programs typically involve comprehensive instruction on EMDR principles, the eight-phase protocol, and practical skills through supervised practice sessions. Ensure that any training program you’re considering covers these basics.
  2. Is the program accredited? Accredited programs ensure adherence to high standards and often include follow-up consultations or supervision. This will mean that you have peace of mind that you’re receiving high-quality training and that your certification will provide you with credible qualifications to leverage in your work context and career.
  3. Diverse training formats cater to different learning preferences and schedules, making it accessible for therapists worldwide to gain proficiency in EMDR therapy. Look for a course that will meet your specific requirements, including geographic location, online options, specialist groups, or demographics.

Accreditation is also crucial for licensing, so if you’re planning to register as a licensed EMDR specialist, check the accreditation status of your proposed training program.

Formal training in EMDR equips therapists with the essential skills and knowledge to effectively treat trauma-related conditions. It ensures adherence to standardized protocols, enhances therapeutic outcomes, and meets professional and ethical standards (Leeds, 2016).

Through this type of comprehensive instruction and supervised practice, you can gain confidence and competence, making you a more effective clinician who tangibly improves client outcomes. These are a few of the top formal training programs we found:

EMDR Institute

EMDR Institute

Start at the source. The EMDR Institute, established by Francine Shapiro, the creator of EMDR therapy, offers extensive basic and advanced EMDR training programs globally. The institute’s training faculty comprises highly experienced EMDR trainers who provide in-depth instruction, hands-on practice, and ongoing support.

Their programs are designed to help participants thoroughly understand and master the EMDR protocol, ensuring therapists can effectively integrate this powerful therapy into their clinical practice to treat trauma and related conditions.

EMDRIA-approved Training Programs

EMDRIA

The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) accredits training programs that meet its rigorous standards for quality and adherence to the EMDR therapy model.

These programs typically offer a comprehensive curriculum that covers the theoretical foundations of EMDR, practical skill development, and supervised practicum experiences.

This is a good option for you if you’d like to apply for EMDRIA certification. You can find a list of upcoming EMDRIA trainings on their events calendar and learn more about the training experience from past students in this video.

Becoming an EMDR therapist - EMDR International Association

Institute for Creative Mindfulness

Institute for Creative Mindfulness

The Institute for Creative Mindfulness (ICM) offers EMDR training programs that are designed to meet the needs of mental health professionals at all levels of experience.

ICM’s EMDR training curriculum integrates cutting-edge research, trauma theory, and mindfulness-based approaches to enhance therapists’ clinical skills and effectiveness in delivering EMDR therapy.

This is a good option if your existing practice approach includes mindfulness or if you’d like to incorporate mindfulness into your EMDR trauma work with clients.

Trauma Recovery EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs

Trauma Recovery

Trauma Recovery EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs offer EMDR training programs that are specifically tailored to meet the needs of therapists working with military veterans, first responders, and other populations affected by trauma.

The organization’s training curriculum emphasizes cultural competence, trauma-informed care, and specialized interventions for addressing complex trauma and dissociation. These programs will benefit anyone working within the context of war, natural disasters, or mass trauma.

Their offerings include basic training, advanced training and workshops, as well as online training, making them accessible no matter your preferred level of education or geographic location.

This is our short list of formal EMDR training programs, and there are also many more programs that you can access through your local continuing professional development (CPD) program. CPD in EMDR offers therapists various training options to enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest advancements.

These options include advanced workshops, online webinars, and specialized courses focusing on specific populations or complex trauma cases. Therapists can also engage in supervision sessions and peer consultation groups to refine their techniques. Here are two reputable examples of CPD programs that include EMDR training:

Professional Education Systems Institute Training Programs

PESI

Professional Education Systems Institute (PESI) is a leading provider of continuing education for mental health professionals. They offer EMDR training workshops and online courses taught by experienced EMDR trainers.

PESI’s EMDR training programs cover essential EMDR concepts, techniques, and applications, making them accessible to therapists looking to integrate EMDR into their clinical practice.

Australian Psychological Society Programs

APS

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) offers CPD in EMDR for psychologists seeking to enhance their skills and stay current with therapeutic advancements. These CPD opportunities include workshops, seminars, and online courses covering advanced EMDR techniques, the latest research, and practical applications.

APS CPD programs ensure high-quality training, adhere to professional standards, and provide psychologists with the tools needed to effectively integrate EMDR into their practice, ultimately improving client care and therapeutic outcomes.

As we can see, the options for EMDR training are many, and you can find a good fit for you. Remember to check that your proposed course curriculum is accredited, that it offers multifaceted learning methodologies, is accessible to you (both technically and geographically), and is appropriate to your working context.

The EMDRIA Certification Process

If you’re thinking of becoming an EMDR specialist, you should consider EMDRIA certification. EMDRIA offers a certification program for therapists who have completed an EMDRIA-approved training program and met the association’s requirements for clinical experience, supervision, and continuing education (Madere et al., 2020).

The certification process involves submitting an application, documenting clinical experience with EMDR therapy, obtaining supervision from an approved EMDRIA consultant, and passing a written exam on EMDR theory and practice. Once certified, therapists must adhere to EMDRIA’s code of conduct and participate in ongoing professional development to maintain their certification status.

EMDRIA certification can boost your credibility and client trust. It assures clients that you obtained advanced skills through rigorous training and supervision and demonstrates that you adhere to high ethical standards (Madere et al., 2020). It may also offer access to professional networks and resources, foster continuing education, and enhance career prospects and professional growth.

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If you’re considering EMDR training and would like to learn more about the treatment method itself, we have several articles related to EMDR, including:

And, if you’d like to learn more about trauma support in general, you may want to consider our Realizing Resilience Masterclass©. This masterclass will help you and your clients to master and implement the six pillars of resilience, which will lead to a healthier navigation of life’s challenges, stressors, and traumas.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, check out this signature collection of 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners. Use them to help others flourish and thrive.

A Take-Home Message

EMDR training is essential for therapists seeking to effectively treat trauma and related conditions and enhance their clinical skills and expertise (Maxfield, 2019).

With the vast array of training options, you can find a program that suits your needs and provides you with the knowledge, skills, and confidence you need to deliver high-quality EMDR therapy and make a meaningful difference in the lives of your clients.

Formal, accredited EMDR training offers the opportunity for certification and licensing that you can leverage to grow your reputation as an EMDR specialist.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

The formal EMDR training timeline depends on course availability and the therapist’s pace and typically takes several months to a year. It may include 20 hours of basic training, plus 20 hours of supervised practice and a further 10 hours of consultation.

Self-guided EMDR training is possible but has limitations and risks. If you plan to provide EMDR as a part of your therapy practice, it will require formal training through accredited programs to ensure proper understanding and application of the technique.

Individuals with severe dissociative disorders, active psychosis, or substance dependence may not be suitable candidates for EMDR therapy due to potential challenges in managing the process and ensuring safety during treatment.

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