If you know anything about me you know I love a good spreadsheet! I also love helping therapists achieve their professional goals as play therapists, child and adolescent therapists, and trauma therapists. AND if you know even more about me you will know I am always talking about EMDR.
If you have never heard of the alphabet soup that is EMDR I am hoping to light a fire under you to get trained! EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a type of therapy that intentionally uses our bodies natural reprocessing mechanisms of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and activation and integration of the right and left hemispheres of our brain to to help people heal from traumatic experiences and/or distressing life events. Some of the people I work with call it voodoo or magic because it seems a little strange AND it is so effective. In addition to witnessing the effectiveness in my clinical practice there is actually a gigantic body of research that has designated EMDR as an effective treatment for trauma. In the purest form we use bilateral (left and right) eye movements to help with this reprocessing but there are also many other forms that a therapist may use, especially in working with children. Paintbrushes, swords, or bongo drums anyone?
And here is a little secret.... I am trained and certified in TF-CBT (Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and I rarely use it. It is because EMDR is that good and is able to produce faster results with less client distress for the children and adolescents that I work with. It is incredible to see someone open up a memory that is highly distressing and by the end of one session or a couple of sessions when revisiting that memory it is experienced without disturbance. I see this happen time and time again. It is wonderful. It is powerful. It is effective.
If you want to learn more about EMDR, EMDRIA (EMDR International Association) is the place to start. Specifically this page will answer more questions about EMDR and has some great videos! If you are even more curious (which I hope you are) you can find training all over the country to become competent in the practice and delivery of EMDR.
I am a little biased that I think the BEST training happens in Minnesota at Life Development Resources with Hector Matascastillo, MSW, LICSW, LSSW is EMDRIA Certified, Approved Consultant and an EMDRIA Approved Basic Trainer. I have the privileged of being a part of this training on day 5 where my training partner and I come in to do a full three hours on the application of EMDR with children and adolescents. I call it "Disney on Ice" (with strong Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model as a backdrop) as we bring in all our toys, books, and games to showcase how to do this work with children and still hold fidelity to the standard protocol.
When that day comes I am like a kid in a candy store and am giddy with excitement that I have a captive audience that I can share the importance of EMDR with children. For those of you who are trained *high five*! You also know that EMDR with children can be tricky and it something you need to seek out consultation for.
EMDR consultation for the application of EMDR with children and adolescents is one of my areas of passion and I provide both in person and distance consultation. There is also a Facebook Group "Play Therapy and EMDR Conversations" that has a ton of EMDR consultants and EMDRIA has a special interest group specifically for child and adolescent therapists where you can connect with a consultant.
If you are trained or thinking about getting trained in EMDR I encourage you to take a step further for certification. Why certification? Well...the certification process allows you to go above and beyond in the application and delivery of EMDR. The standard protocol is just the beginning. I'm not saying there is a protocol for EVERYTHING but dang sometimes it feels like it. There are protocols for attachment, addiction, pre-verbal trauma and SO MUCH MORE!
Having consultation after your training and the additional continuing education you pursue will allow you to explore different protocols or areas of interest within the context of an ongoing consultation relationship. It helps you stay true to the fidelity of the model AND is a signal to other EMDR therapists that you have put in the work to be the best version of yourself in these EMDR sessions. It is also definitely something I look for when making a referral. EMDRIA has a directory of EMDR therapists that you can search by city or radius and it will designate if a therapist is certified or not.
One thing I know is that if you are stepping up and going for certification you need some organization in your life. I created another spreadsheet for my consultants that I thought I would share with the greater EMDR community. It has a "cheat sheet" for criteria for certification, resources for the certification process and where to find CE opportunities and a place to track your client sessions, consultation hours, and continuing education.
Get the guide HERE!
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I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC,