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How to be trained in EMDR (and what to avoid)

EMDR changes lives, treating many different mental health diagnoses in a dynamic and fulfilling manner that differs from other types of therapy. Read other blog posts on EMDR to see the research. Often, clients who have not had success with therapy find that EMDR works for them. For these and many more reasons, trainings in EMDR are filling up across the country, with therapists eager to add this method to their skill set.

However, therapists seeking EMDR training often don't know where to start. There are dozens for trainings at locations across the world, and now, even more online. This is not only confusing, but counterproductive, as many of these trainings aren't the real thing, some perhaps simply a day, or a few hours. Few therapists want to be unsuccessful, or misrepresent EMDR. So, it's important to know how to get properly trained.

The only reputable trainings in EMDR are EMDRIA-Approved, meeting specific guidelines that fall in with the research on EMDR. You can visit the website to find them. However, even many EMDRIA-Approved trainings are sub-par and make many personalized modifications to the method that do not reflect the research, or reflect the personal biases of the trainer rather than the research. Some appear to offer more intensive or advanced training, but do not give a solid foundation. The EMDRIA-Approved trainings that can be trusted these days are those conducted by the organizations that Dr. Francine Shapiro founded:

-The EMDR Institute (

-Trauma Recovery-EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs (

The first of these is the original training organization, and most of the trainers and staff are people Dr. Shapiro personally selected and trained, and are recognized as outstanding clinicians and educators. The second is the non-profit Dr. Shapiro created to provide EMDR trainings and "global missions" worldwide, and the staff is all-volunteer, mostly made up of Institute staff. I was initially trained by HAP, and now I work with the Institute as a facilitator, helping with their Basic Trainings. So I can personally vouch for these organizations.

You need to meet certain criteria to be able to attend an EMDRIA-Approved trainings. Basically, you need to be able to use it in therapy, so you need to be either

-a licensed therapist with a Master's degree or above (LMFT, Ph.D, LCMHC, LCSW, etc.)

-a therapist with such a degree studying for licensure under supervision

-a graduate student in such a degree program (i.e., able to be licensed after graduation)

EMDR training is progressive, depending on what you want to do with it. Regardless, the foundation is EMDRIA-Approved Basic Training. That involves two weekends, a lot of practice, and 10 hours of consultation with an EMDRIA Approved Consultant. From there, EMDR therapists are encouraged to attend advanced trainings of varying lengths in particular issues they want to work with, such as grief, dissociative disorders, or depression, learning to apply EMDR in difficult cases where it needs some adaptation. Others who want to make EMDR their primary therapy method choose to pursue EMDRIA Certification, a multi-year process refining advanced skills. From there, some choose to spend more years becoming an EMDRIA Approved Consultant, who is able to complete the trainings of Basic Trainees and those seeking Certification. Some Approved Consultants become Facilitators or Trainers with an organization like the Institute or HAP. Trainers are the lecturers, and facilitators are the practicum specialists, at Basic Trainings.

Go to the above websites to find good trainings--they are all online now following COVID, but maybe soon there will be a move toward a hybrid model, as I will always remember and value the experience of flying to Connecticut twice for my Basic Training. Just beware of off-brand Basic Trainings not affiliated with Dr. Shapiro's legacy that claim to be more advanced than the Institute's. And certainly don't go to the "value priced" trainings, or other non-EMDRIA-Approved trainings. A ton of these just want to take your money.


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