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Finding the Right EMDR Therapist

emdr therapist

Choosing the right therapist for EMDR can significantly impact your healing journey. As a specialized form of psychotherapy designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories, EMDR requires a skilled and experienced practitioner to guide you through the process effectively.

What is EMDR and How to Know if It’s Right for You

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (or EMDR) is a highly effective psychotherapy method designed to help individuals process and heal from traumatic experiences. Developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s, EMDR involves recalling distressing events while receiving bilateral sensory input, such as side-to-side eye movements or tapping, which helps reduce the emotional impact of the trauma that is being remembered.

If you experience symptoms such as persistent anxiety, depression, flashbacks, nightmares, or emotional numbness related to past traumatic events, EMDR might be beneficial for you. This therapy is particularly effective for those suffering from PTSD, but it can also help with phobias, panic disorders, grief, and other emotional issues stemming from unresolved trauma. If traditional talk therapy hasn’t fully addressed your needs, EMDR could provide the breakthrough you’ve been seeking.

The Science Behind EMDR Healing

Normally, our brains process and store memories smoothly. However, when something traumatic happens, the brain can get stuck. Instead of processing the event normally, the traumatic memory stays raw and unprocessed, causing ongoing distress, like flashbacks or anxiety. EMDR helps "unstick" these traumatic memories. The therapy involves recalling the traumatic event while simultaneously focusing on a form of side-to-side stimulation, usually moving your eyes back and forth. This bilateral stimulation is key to the process.

The side-to-side movement is believed to help the brain's two halves communicate better. This balanced brain activity seems to help the brain reprocess and integrate the traumatic memory correctly. This stimulation also helps reduce the emotional intensity of the memory, making it feel less distressing over time. By reprocessing the memory, the brain can reframe it, meaning it can see the event in a new, less negative light.

EMDR helps the brain finish the job of processing traumatic memories. This reprocessing makes the traumatic memory less painful and allows individuals to move forward with less distress. The success of EMDR therapy largely depends on the therapist’s expertise and the therapeutic relationship. A qualified EMDR therapist will not only possess the necessary credentials but will also create a safe, empathetic, and supportive environment conducive to healing.

emdr therapist

Steps to Finding the Right EMDR Therapist
  1. Research and Referrals: Start by conducting thorough research. Use sources such as the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) website, which offers a directory of certified EMDR therapists, or online therapist databases such as Psychology Today or Therapy Den. Additionally, seek referrals from your primary care physician, mental health professionals, or trusted friends and family who have undergone EMDR therapy.

  2. Verify Credentials and Training: Look for credentials such as Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC/LMHC), or Licensed Psychologist (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). While EMDR therapists are not required to be certified, certification indicates that the therapist has completed extensive training in EMDR and adheres to high professional standards. A therapist's 'About Me' page usually has more information on where and when a person was trained.

  3. Assess Experience and Specialization: Some therapists may specialize in treating specific types of trauma, such as childhood abuse, combat-related PTSD, or complex trauma. Choose a therapist whose expertise aligns with your needs.

  4. Evaluate Therapeutic Approach and Style: Every therapist has a unique therapeutic style. Some may incorporate other therapeutic modalities alongside EMDR. During your initial consultation, discuss their approach and ensure it resonates with you.

  5. Consider Practical Factors: Practical considerations such as location, availability, and cost are also important. Discuss fees upfront, including whether they accept insurance or offer sliding scale fees based on income.

In-Person vs. Virtual EMDR Therapy

Research has shown that both in-person and virtual EMDR therapy can be equally effective. The key to successful EMDR therapy lies in the therapist's skill and the therapeutic alliance, rather than the medium through which the therapy is delivered. Both formats have been found to reduce the emotional distress associated with traumatic memories, with virtual therapy offering an accessible and flexible alternative without compromising the quality of care.

Ultimately, the choice between in-person and virtual EMDR therapy depends on individual preferences and circumstances, with both options providing a viable path to healing.

Making the Decision

I always say that you can immediately tell the therapist and client relationship in the consultation. After meeting with potential therapists, take some time to reflect on your experiences. Consider how comfortable and understood you felt during the consultation. Trust your instincts—choosing a therapist is a personal decision, and it’s essential to select someone with whom you feel a genuine connection.

Finding the right EMDR therapist can be a transformative step towards healing from trauma. By conducting thorough research, verifying credentials, and evaluating experience and therapeutic style, you can make an informed choice. Remember, the right therapist will not only have the necessary expertise but will also create a safe and supportive environment for your healing journey. Investing time in finding the right EMDR therapist can make a significant difference in your recovery process, helping you to process and overcome traumatic memories, and move towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.


Are we the right EMDR therapists for you? Feel free to reach out for a free 15-minute consultation.


Feelings Forward Wellness provides holistic treatment for trauma that supports the healing of mind, body, spirit, and community. Through offerings of trauma psychotherapy, psychedelic-assisted therapy, and somatic healing, FFW aims to provide effective and culturally responsive mental health treatment for those continuing to struggle with the after-effects of trauma and PTSD.


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