EMDR: Levels of Training

View over the shoulder of a woman making notesThe alphabet soup of degrees, licenses, and various organizations related to all things EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is confusing to be sure, but it is imperative that you review your therapist’s level of training.

As I have addressed before, contrary to popular belief, EMDR is not an intervention, but rather a full and comprehensive modality, one that includes eight phases, each phase with its distinct functionality, process, and methods. An EMDR therapist will approach your case, treatment goals, and your progress through the eyes of that model as it were. EMDR is a way of conceptualizing what you are working on, how your arrived at the symptoms you want to change, and what you want the future to look like.

Knowing your EMDR therapist’s training level will also enable you to determine their experience and knowledge base regarding this modality. While this information may be a little dry, it will give you the tools to ask what you need to of a potential EMDR therapist. You will know what your therapist means when he or she tells you what their level of training is. Remember, most of all, look for someone who has attended an EMDRIA Approved Training.

The Basics

Prior to 2007, the EMDRIA standards for EMDR Basic Training came in the form of an independent two-part training model. EMDR therapists who are trained prior to 2007 would, therefore, identify having been trained at Level One or Level Two. Each workshop took a weekend to complete and in contrast to the current training standard, did not include any consultation hours in between trainings. The EMDR therapist was trained in EMDR and able to identify him or herself as being EMDR trained with just the Level One training, as the Level Two training was not required. Nevertheless, please keep in mind that being Level Two EMDR trained was strongly recommended. From a client’s perspective, Level Two heightened the EMDR therapist’s understanding, provided him or her with additional tools within the EMDR model, and provided skills for processing more complex trauma cases. If your EMDR therapist chose to complete both trainings, he or she would have completed 34 training hours in EMDR.

After 2007, as I previously mentioned in last week’s article, the EMDRIA training standards for EMDR practitioners evolved. What was once Level One and Two EMDR training became a Basic Training model, one that required the completion of both independent trainings in order to identify oneself as having completed the Basic Training that now constitutes 50 total training hours. The lecture and supervised practice portions are conducted over two weekends at 20 hours each weekend. What this also means for you is that your therapist can start using EMDR after Part I, and is encouraged to, while their Basic Training is still in process.

Furthermore, as part of this 50-hour Basic Training, and to receive a formal Certificate of Completion the therapist must also complete a total of 10 documented consultation hours. Five hours must be conducted after the first weekend, and the final five after the second weekend.

Considering Certification

For those seeking to refine their knowledge and utilization of EMDR, there is an option of becoming an EMDRIA Certified In EMDR. Essentially, the goal of the certification process is for the EMDR therapist to demonstrate fidelity to the EMDR protocol and increase his or her knowledge, expertise, and experience with the modality.

To become certified EMDRIA requires that a clinician who is EMDRIA Certified in EMDR has been licensed or certified in their profession for independent practice and has had a minimum of two years experience in their field. They have completed an EMDRIA approved training program in EMDR, have conducted a minimum of fifty clinical sessions in which EMDR was utilized, and have received twenty hours of consultation in EMDR by an Approved Consultant. In addition they must complete twelve hours of continuing education in EMDR every two years.

Working with a Consultant

The EMDR therapist seeking certification completes those 20 consultation hours with someone called an EMDRIA Approved Consultant in EMDR. Or, an EMDRIA Approved Consultant In Training can provide 15 consultation hours, and an EMDRIA Approved Consultant completes the remaining 5.

As an individual seeking EMDR therapy, think of an EMDR Consultant as one who helps EMDR therapists further enhance and assure their understanding of EMDR. To be classified as such, an EMDRIA Approved Consultant must already be EMDRIA Certified, have a minimum of three years experience with EMDR after completion of Basic Training, and have conducted at least 300 EMDR sessions. In addition, the Consultant must continue to obtain at least 12 CEUs, specific to EMDR, every two years.

Whew! Now, keep in mind, you may also run across someone who, on top of being an EMDRIA Approved Consultant in EMDR, is also EMDRIA Institute Facilitator, EMDRIA Approved Training Provider or EMDR HAP Trainer. EMDRIA Facilitators or HAP Trainers conduct and facilitate the actual Basic Training that therapists must complete to begin their EMDR journey. In addition to actually conducting the training, they also provide the consultation hours that are required in between the Part I and Part II of the Basic Training. For those completing the Basic Training through HAP an EMDRIA Approved Consultant or Consultant In Training can conduct those consultation hours in between Part I and Part II.

So, that all being said, I know it can be very confusing. But, I hope that this article has given you an idea of what those EMDR training levels mean! Best of luck to you as you travel your healing journey.

© Copyright 2010 by Sarah Jenkins. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • bethany

    October 13th, 2010 at 7:08 PM

    wow…that is one long list there…but inspite of all this its true that each case is a different one and experience,although helpful,will not be able to completely guide the therapist and a thorough study of the case is the only thing that can make things easier…


    October 14th, 2010 at 6:05 AM

    Bethany,Although each case is a different one it is common knowledge that an experienced therapist is any day better than someone who’s just started out simply because of their experience and the various things they have learnt over the years during their practice.

  • Peter.c

    October 14th, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    Thank you for all the explanation regarding this, Sarah. It will be of a lot of benefit to people who may be on the lookout for a therapist and come across your article.

  • Maggie W

    October 14th, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Thank you so much for emphasizing the importance of this issue. It is so important to know the level of training that one has had in the past before turning your life and your mental health over to them. Just another reminder to always do some research into your physicians and make sure that they really have all that you need them to have in order to treat you effectively and safely!

  • Minson.p

    October 15th, 2010 at 5:56 AM

    Whether you’re getting a small service from someone or something as important as therapy,it is always better to visit the ones who are the best in the trade and are licensed.Expert services from such professionals are great because you know what you’re getting is the best services and you can be assured that everything’s fine and under control and favorable results can be expected.

  • David S.

    July 27th, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    So, do I have this right? After the first weekend training, (I’m going with Francine Shapiro) an LMFT can claim a Temporary EMD Certification or an EMDRIA Certification (which one? Or what would you call it?) Then, after the 50 hours of work with clients, the consults, and the second training, then an LMFT may call themselves EMDRIA Certified?

    What do you call yourself after the first training to attract clients you will need to work with to complete your 50 hours???)
    EMDR Intern?
    EMDR Certified (Temporarily)
    EMDR Certifide
    EMDRIA Certified?

    Its a bit confusing. Can anybody clear this up?

    David S.

  • Lacey

    July 24th, 2015 at 8:38 AM

    This is a great explanation, very useful for people who are unsure about therapy.

  • Judy W

    May 27th, 2016 at 11:21 AM

    Thanks for these tips for EMDR training. I’m glad that you mentioned how I would also be required to complete ten documented consultation hours after completing the 50-hour basic training course to receive a certificate of completion. This is something that I should keep in mind to plan out the first weekend after getting this certification.

  • Kathy

    May 10th, 2021 at 5:40 PM

    Pesi offers training in EMDR. Can a licensed professional practice EMDR after taking Pesi’s training? Is it ethical in Illinois to practice EMDR without being certified by EMDRIA?

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