EMDR is arguably the leading trauma therapy, but many or most therapists who obtain EMDR training don’t end up using it much. This is largely due to inadequate training. Unfortunately, those who want to learn EMDR may not know how to discern which of the EMDR training programs are most likely to work out. So here is some guidance for shopping for an EMDR training. Note that this advice is based on over two decades of experience teaching EMDR as well as extensive discussions with other EMDR trainers and consultants, but not on formal research.
Full training required. The EMDR International Association specifies that to be trained in EMDR (in the USA & Canada), you have to complete at least 50 hours of training, including 10 hours of consultation. If you only do some parts or pieces, you are not trained in EMDR.
Consultant provided? To complete the consultation requirement, some training providers expect you to find your own consultant, which can be good in that it gives you choices. Some training providers include consultation in their training package, which can be good in that you don’t have to figure out how to arrange the rest of your training. Even when it is included, though, it’s still worth finding out whether the consultation dates are already scheduled as part of the course, or whether you have to make arrangements with their consultants – which, if they’re very busy, could entail considerable delay to completing your training.
Text book, CEs. You might also want to see if text book and/or CE credits are included. Not such a big deal, but worth a hundred dollars or so.
How to prepare clients. One of the main reasons people who complete the training don’t end up using EMDR is because they may learn EMDR well but not know how to guide their clients to be ready, willing, and able to do EMDR. Relatively few EMDR training programs devote much time to teaching this – it can range from a couple of days to only a couple of hours. Worth looking into.
You can get less than you pay for. Some EMDR training providers that are not accredited by the EMDR International Association may offer low-cost quickie EMDR trainings. Most experienced EMDR trainers agree that the standard 50 or so hours of training is barely adequate. So if someone is offering to teach you EMDR in two or three days, you may end up with little or no competency in EMDR.
How the Training Is Marketed
Is the whole training scheduled? When a training provider advertises an EMDR training, they should be listing dates for the entire training package. If they are only listing dates for one part of the training, there is no assurance that they will ever offer the rest of the training in the same location. So you could end up investing in a partial training, and then be stranded with no easy way to finish.
How much will it cost? When a training provider lists the cost of an EMDR training, all costs should be shown, to cover all meetings, materials, and consultation required for completion of the training. Otherwise you can’t tell what the cost is. Advertising that a training is low-cost is meaningless — and possibly false — if the full cost of completing the training is not disclosed.
Rates of completion. Dropout from EMDR trainings has been a serious problem. Training providers should show their rates of completion (preferably within one year of the start date), so you have a sense of how likely you are to complete their training should you start it.
Who is the trainer? Even within a given organization, individual trainers have their differences. The name of the trainer for a given course should be listed, so in case you know their reputation, you can proceed accordingly.
There’s a lot of experience and talent out there among providers of EMDR training. But there’s also a lot of variability in terms of what’s included in a training, as well as what’s disclosed about it. If you are considering EMDR training – and you should be! – it’s worth shopping around to find a training provider who clearly discloses the relevant information, and who offers you the best chance of completing the program as well as actually using EMDR.