What you don’t know about EMDR trainings can cost you.

As an EMDRIA approved training provider of EMDR Therapy Training and Advanced Trainings, I understand how difficult it is to get trainings approved through the EMDR professional organization, EMDRIA. I also understand how important it is to educate the public about why choosing an EMDRIA approved training is important.

There is a lot of confusion about EMDR trainings. What does EMDRIA approval for your training mean?

1. The training meets a very high standard for content.
2. It meets a minimum number of hours, at least 40 hours of training and 10 hours of consultation.
3. The training meets one of the requirements for EMDRIA Certification.
4. The person offering the training has completed the requirements of an EMDRIA Approved Consultant.

Anyone can offer an EMDR training. My dog Walter could offer a training. You might spend most of the training chasing squirrels around the yard, but technically that could be called therapy.

That is of course an extreme example but less misleading than some of the EMDR trainings that are offered out there. One place on the world wide web that offers EMDR “Intensives” is PESI. One training I found was this one:

“EMDR 3-Day Intensive Training: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: Including Neuroscience, Diagnosis, and Effective Practices for Successful Trauma Treatment”

As I read through the description of the training they mention the effectiveness of EMDR therapy, the importance of trauma treatment and the use of bilateral stimulation. But it is what they don’t mention that matters the most.

What is not said?

1. This training is not EMDRIA Approved!

2. After the completion of this training you are not eligible for EMDRIA certification or many of the EMDRIA approved advanced trainings.

3. How much does the trainer know about EMDR? Who trained her to teach EMDR?

My EMDR career started in 1996 by taking an EMDR training in Lansing, Michigan. Dr. Gerald Puk was the instructor and he was one of Francine Shapiro’s original group of trainers. At that time they called the training Level 1 EMDR. For the 2nd weekend of training I flew to San Francisco to complete my training with Dr. Francine Shapiro, the originator of EMDR Therapy. I was then considered Level 2 EMDR trained. Now in order to be EMDR trained you need to complete all 6 days of training and 10 hours of consultation, to meet EMDRIA’s standard.

Prior to my training in EMDR I was trained behaviorally in my clinical psychology graduate program. I was doing Exposure Therapy with clients and it was working. Although I was providing effective therapy for most of my clients, after using EMDR therapy with clients I was immediately hooked and I became an EMDR therapist. I found EMDR to be much kinder and more gentle than Exposure therapy in most cases.

One quality of mine that can also be my downfall is persistence. If I am interested in something I want to know more, I want to take the next step in deepening my knowledge. After my 2nd EMDR training I called the EMDR Institute and asked if I could apply to be an assistant at their trainings. At the time I thought I was volunteering. I filled out the application, took a quiz and completed an interview. I was accepted and began to be trained to be an assistant. I found out after the training started that I would actually get paid to assist!

I was so sold on EMDR as a treatment that I kept taking more steps in my development without regard to money. It was that important to me and it felt that right!

A few years later a dear friend of mine told me that she had been invited to be an volunteer EMDR trainer for EMDR HAP, Humanitarian Assistance Program, now called Trauma Recovery. I immediately expressed that I wanted to do that too! I made a call and my friend and I were both on the road to becoming EMDR trainers who were trained by Dr. Francine Shapiro herself!

The EMDR HAP trainer’s training was held in Sea Ranch, California. We went first to be trained to do the first weekend and then again to be trained to teach the second weekend. Our trainings were held in a house we rented in Sea Ranch. There were about 12 of us becoming trainers and we sat around the living room learning to teach EMDR from Dr. Francine Shapiro! At night we sat in the hot tub together, processing the events of the day and laughing a lot. It was an experience I will treasure forever.

At our trainer’s training we were assigned a part of the training to present to the group and most importantly in front of Dr. Shapiro. I will never forget standing in that living room, looking out on the ocean as my heart pounded out of my chest! There was a beautiful hawk that landed on the tree outside of the window and appeared to be watching me. That hawk seemed to be telling me “all is well”.

After my presentation I was so jacked up that I went for a run during our lunch break. I saw what I believed to be the same hawk, sitting on a fence post, watching me run. The image of that hawk has stayed with me as a resource. As I am writing this I see that hawk as a symbol of my EMDR journey and how right it is for me.

After becoming a volunteer trainer for EMDR HAP, I volunteered for more than 40 trainings across the country. My family would often ask if I was getting paid for the weekends. When I told them no, I was volunteering, I knew they didn’t understand, but I did. I knew that teaching EMDR to clinicians across the country was very important. Like waves from a drop of water, spreading out in all directions, my teaching EMDR was a way to help ease the suffering and pain in the world.

In 2013, after years of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy training, I wrote my own EMDR training manual and developed an EMDR training we call the S.A.F.E. Model. Somatic and attachment focused EMDR was developed to address some of the things I saw missing in the traditional EMDR trainings I was teaching. My Certification in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and extensive EMDR training inform our way of teaching EMDR, S.A.F.E. Model.

Dr. Francine Shapiro is one of the most amazing human beings I have ever met. After the development of EMDR therapy, the 2nd most important thing she did with EMDR was to create EMDRIA, our professional organization. By doing this she has allowed EMDR to have standards and wings. EMDRIA does many things including setting standards and approving training providers and training programs.

Dr. Shapiro’s EMDR Institute and our Personal Transformation Institute are both required to meet the same EMDRIA standards. I spent a year writing the S.A.F.E. Model of EMDR Therapy. It was immediately approved by EMDRIA and we have continued to develop new ways of teaching and supporting the learning of future EMDR therapists. The journey continues!