How can a person looking for help with past trauma be sure that the EMDR treatment they are receiving or about to receive is “good”? There are several things that a person can ask their EMDR therapist, even before treatment begins or before making a first appointment to make sure the therapist is going to do everything that should be done to ensure that this will be a worthwhile experience.
- Ask what kind of training the therapist has had. The person should have at least a Master’s Degree from an accredited institution with current licensure in the state in which you live and the provider is practicing. They should be in good standing with their license (no previous sanctions or lawsuits pending against them) and have oversight by a professional organization (the NASW for social workers, for instance).
- This person should have undergone good quality training to specialize in EMDR and understand the Ethics and Code of Conduct of not only their particular profession, (every profession has one and they are all very similar, the American Psychological Association vs the NASW, for instance) but also that of EMDRIA, (EMDR International Association).
- It is even sweeter if the EMDR therapist is a Certified EMDR Therapist, because this means that therapist cared enough about their EMDR practice to not only obtain Basic Training, but also pursued further knowledge and understanding by working with at least one Consultant who helped them deepen their skill set with at least the Basic Protocol in EMDR. Hopefully, they also worked with someone who is a specialist in the area in which the therapist wishes to specialize.
The reason these things are important is because EMDR practitioners are as different as the colors of the 96 box of crayons you can buy at the store. Every therapist has an individual approach in therapy and EMDR is no exception. Training helps to teach therapists the Basic Protocol and the reasons why things are done in the order in which they are done. Hopefully, the training also educates the therapists about which people should not receive traditional eye movement bilateral stimulation and other options available should one of those situations arise.
But the most important reason is that Basic Protocol. Demonstrating proficiency with the Basic Protocol is very important and is the foundation on which all other EMDR practice is built.
Part of the training involves preparing the client for EMDR. Good preparation of the client, in my humble opinion, is everything. If you are ever in a situation with an EMDR therapist and they do not ask you a lot of questions about your history and traumatic experiences and if they don’t do at least one exercise to be certain you can self-soothe, find someone else to work with. A good place to find an EMDR therapist is http://emdria.org.