HOW TO FIND AN EMDR THERAPIST - Mental Health Match (2023)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has become a popular type of therapy to help people heal from painful memories and traumatic events. This article will cover all the information you need to know about EMDR therapy, whom it can help, what to look for in an EMDR therapist, and how to find an EDMR therapist near you.


Francine Shapiro developed EMDRas a way for clients who would tend to intellectualize their problems to become more grounded in their feelings. Shapiro discovered that people canreduce the impacts of traumaby moving their eyes back and forth while recalling an intense memory. Shapiro encouraged clients to heal traumas by going through their experiences in their minds, rather than running away from them.

What does EMDR stand for?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is called this because it is a therapy that useseye movementto help someonedesensitizepainful or traumatic memories and thenreprocessthem to create new responses to those memories.

How does EMDR therapy work?

EMDR is a therapeutic approach that works by stimulating both sides of the brain while reassociating a painful memory with a new, more helpful story. By activating vision in both eyes, research shows this“bilateral stimulation” helps the braincreate new associations with memories while bypassing areas of the brain and mind that are stuck in traumatic responses.

For example, a person who has had a traumatic event or disturbing experience, such as having been assaulted, may be stuck in patterns of emotional distress, self-blame,nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts. During EMDR, the person can create new associations with the painful memory, helping their brain realize they are not at fault and are now safe. This can help people find peace and resolution after traumatic experiences.

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You can do EMDR therapy online, or with a certified EMDR therapist near you.

What does an EMDR therapy treatment session look like?

While there is no universal script for an EMDR therapy session, you can expect to go througheight phases of EMDR treatment, typically in 6-12 sessions that last 60-90 minutes:

  1. Context: a trained EMDR therapist will get to know your experiences and help you prioritize a treatment plan and create a safe space.
  2. Prepare: Your EMDR therapist will help you plan for what to expect, make sure you feel safe, and are prepared to regulate yourself if revisiting a traumatic memory becomes too overwhelming.
  3. Recall the memory: You will then identify the specific intense memory you want to heal.
  4. Stimulate both eyes: During this phase of the EMDR process, you will focus on the painful memory while engaging in rapid eye movements back and forth.
  5. Install a new memory: While you engage in eye movement, you will also think about a more positive, helpful, and peaceful perspective to replace your negative thoughts.
  6. Body scan: Once the most intense parts of EMDR therapy are completed, your therapist will then guide you to check your body for remaining tension.
  7. Closure: Finally, you will use tools to regulate your emotions, calm yourself, and restore balance after the session.
  8. Reevaluation of treatment: Periodically, your therapist will work with you to evaluate if EMDR treatment is meeting your goals.

These steps and techniques are common in the EMDR process, however, it is important to note that many certified EMDR clinicians work in anintegrative modality, bringing in tools and techniques from manytherapy styles and therapeutic approaches(such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). At times, clinicians may integrate EMDR into their work in a more subtle and less strict way.

What is the difference between brainspotting vs EMDR

Bothbrainspottingand EMDR can help you heal traumatic memories. However, EMDR relies on bilateral stimulation of moving both eyes, while brainspotting usually involves focusing your eyes on one spot. If the rapid eye movement of EMDR is too distracting for you, you may want to try brainspotting.

Is EMDR similar to hypnosis?

Hypnosiswas not specifically designed for trauma in the way EMDR was and EMDR has more proven long-lasting effects. Unlike EMDR, hypnosis will put you in a trance-like state that leaves you open to pre-determined suggestions and goals. EMDR does not bring you into a trance as it relies on you consciously and intentionally engaging with your memories.

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EMDR has beenproven effective for people who have experienced trauma. This can include people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), such asmilitary veterans,and people who have experienced violence, abuse, or assault.

In recent years, EMDR has become a powerful tool for people in emotional distress because ofexperiences other than trauma.This is because EMDR helps ground you in the present, instead of a past memory, with an emphasis on evaluating what today’s dangerreallyis.

What disorders can EMDR treat?

Research shows EMDR is a helpful mental health modality for those with:

  • anxiety
  • chronic pain
  • depression
  • dissociative disorders
  • eating disorders
  • grief
  • panic attacks
  • personality disorders
  • phobias, and
  • trauma

Does EMDR work?

Studies have indicated that EMDR not only works, but thatits effects last over time. Especially around topics of trauma,one studydemonstrated that EMDR was 90% effective at eliminating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms. However, it is important to note that EMDR requires an incredible amount oftherapist-client collaboration and trust.

How long does it take for EMDR to work?

If you are treating a single traumatic memory, you can expect to feel better in about three sessions. Multiple and complex traumas may take longer.

(Video) How to Find a Therapist | Jordan B Peterson


It iseasy to find an EMDR therapist, either online or near you. When searching for an EMDR therapist, you may wish to know some keywords that can help you determine which EMDR therapist is best for you.

What is the difference between EMDR-trained and EMDR-certified?

  • EMDR-trainedmeans the therapist has learned how to use the tools of EMDR effectively, the eight phases of EMDR treatment, how to create a treatment plan for trauma counseling, and how to integrate EMDR with other tools and best clinical practices. Therapists still in training who are not fully licensed can be EMDR-trained.
  • EMDR-certifiedmeans the therapist has completed all the elements of EMDR training plus: consulted with an EMDR consultant for 20 hours, completed 50 EMDR client sessions, and completed 12 hours of continued education. Only therapists who are fully licensed can be EMDR-certified.
HOW TO FIND AN EMDR THERAPIST - Mental Health Match (1)

It is also important to note that the best EMDR therapist for you is not solely based on licenses, credentials, or certificates. The best EMDR therapist for you is the one that you can see yourself building a connection with, developing trust in over time, and whose clinical practices, such as fees and availability align with your needs.

Can you do EMDR online?

Yes,EMDR can besuccessfully and ethically conducted online. Online EMDR became more popular over the past few years. If you have complex and very painful trauma, you may benefit from doing EMDR in person because you’ll have a trusted and trained professional in the room with you as you recall distressing memories.

Does insurance cover EDMR therapy?

Yes, most insurances that cover talk therapy will cover EMDR treatments. However, EMDR sessions can be longer than the typical 50-minute mental health session usually covered by insurance. You should check with your insurance provider to understand the types and quantity of sessions your plan will cover.

Furthermore, some insurances will cover EMDR treatment for PTSD and trauma, but not for other types of anxiety or mood disorders. Always check with your insurance to understand the diagnoses for which EMDR is covered, as well as how EMDR works with your usual co-pays and deductibles.

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There are a number of ways tofind an EMDR therapistwho meets your needs and is a good fit, including insurance, budget, personal preferences, and in-person/remote.

How to find certified EMDR therapists near me

Like all therapies, you can be treated by only a clinician who is licensed in the state in which you live. To find an EMDR therapist who can treat you, consider the following options:

  • For the quickest way,enter your zip code hereto find fully licensed EMDR therapists in your community.
  • Ask your usual therapist, primary care provider, or medical provider.
  • Use your insurance directory
  • Use thisdirectoryfrom the EMDR International Association, orthis one from the EMDR Institute, although results may be limited based on your location

How to choose an EMDR therapist

As you evaluate your options, remember thatlooking for a therapistwho is a good fit is an intimate journey. Since people often seek EMDR therapists to process trauma, compatibility and a sense of safety are most important when looking for an EMDR professional. You should look for a therapist who you feel comfortable with, can trust, and can see yourself building a relationship with. This means looking for a certified EMDR therapist who has competence in the issues you are struggling with, a cultural fit, and a personality that works for you.

If you have complex or multiple traumas, you may wish to find a more experienced therapist who is EMDR-certified and fully licensed.

If you are considering EMDR, it is best to first talk with a trained medical provider, including an EMDR therapist, for more information. And if you need help finding a therapist who works for you, pleasereach out to usand we will personally help get you connected.

(Video) How to Find a Therapist You Can Afford ft. Better Help


How do I choose an EMDR therapist? ›

How do I know if the therapist specializes in EMDR?
  1. Does the therapist attend EMDRIA conferences and/or advanced EMDR specific workshops?
  2. Search for EMDR Certified Clinicians. ...
  3. Search for Approved Consultants since they have invested even more time and skills to the point where they can teach others how to use the EMDR.

Who is not a good candidate for EMDR therapy? ›

If you're emotions feel overwhelming or if you tend to shut down when you feel an emotion you may not be ready for EMDR treatment. EMDR therapy relies on your body and mind's ability to process through your thoughts and feelings. If you're unable to process in that way, EMDR therapy may not be effective.

Is EMDR covered under insurance? ›

Does insurance cover EMDR? Yes, if your health insurance covers therapy, then it likely covers EMDR as part of trauma treatment. However, since many sessions of EMDR are longer than the standard 45-60 minutes, it is important to clarify with your insurance company whether they will cover longer sessions.

What is the controversy related to EMDR? ›

The efficacy of EMDR for PTSD is an extremely controversial subject among researchers, as the available evidence can be interpreted in several ways. On one hand, studies have shown that EMDR produces greater reduction in PTSD symptoms compared to control groups receiving no treatment.

How many times a week should you do EMDR? ›

EMDR is an individual therapy typically delivered one to two times per week for a total of 6-12 sessions, although some people benefit from fewer sessions. Sessions can be conducted on consecutive days.

What is the success rate of EMDR? ›

Several studies have shown that Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is incredibly effective for those suffering from PTSD, with some showing as much as a 77% success rate.

When should EMDR not be used? ›

Because stability must come first, you don't use EMDR to process trauma when a patient is actively abusively using alcohol, drugs, or something to help them feel less. You can't effectively practice EMDR phases 3 – 8 with someone who has yet to experience a safe, trusting relationship.

What type of trauma is EMDR for? ›

EMDR was developed – and is best known – as a therapy for treating trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It's recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a treatment for PTSD.

Do you talk during EMDR? ›

17. Is EMDR psychotherapy? EMDR is a form of psychotherapy, a specialized, brain-based method for healing trauma. But unlike conventional therapy, you're not talking back-and-forth with the therapist for the entire session.

How long does it take to see results from EMDR therapy? ›

Each individual reacts differently to EMDR therapy, but as a general rule, a typical session will last anywhere between 60-90 minutes. Getting to the bottom of a traumatic memory and completely rewiring your brain can take anywhere between three to twelve sessions.

Does EMDR release trauma from the body? ›

Developed by trauma therapists, EMDR helps your brain process and release traumatic memories in an unusual way — through your eye movements. If you've experienced trauma, you'll know just how much hold it can have over you.

How soon after trauma can you do EMDR? ›

Clients can benefit by receiving EMDR therapy for recent traumatic events as early as possible, often within the first few days following the event. Early intervention with EMDR helps the client to process the event during the “Acute Stress” response phase before the memory has fully consolidated.

Can EMDR trigger psychosis? ›

Evidence for reductions in auditory hallucinations and paranoid thinking was mixed. No adverse events were reported, although initial increases in psychotic symptoms were observed in two studies. Average dropout rates across the studies were comparable to other trauma-focused treatments for PTSD.

Does EMDR release trapped emotions? ›

EMDR therapy uses bilateral stimulation, right/left eye movement, or tactile stimulation, or sound, which repeatedly activates the opposite sides of the brain releasing emotional experiences that are "trapped" in the nervous system.

Can EMDR bring up repressed memories? ›

EMDR does not recover repressed memories.

EMDR only assists the brain in reprocessing unstable processed memories. If the brain has locked away a memory, it has done so for a reason. This therapy will not unlock something that it is not ready for.

What happens to your brain after EMDR? ›

EMDR temporarily slows your over-stimulated amygdala down and synchronises your brain waves helping you process the traumatic memory. This suggests that during EMDR therapy the traumatic memories are continuously “reactivated, replayed and encoded into existing memory networks”.

Are you awake during EMDR therapy? ›

During EMDR treatment, you will remain in control, fully alert and wide-awake. This is not a form of hypnosis and you can stop the process at any time. Throughout the session, the therapist will support and facilitate your own self-healing and intervene as little as possible.

What are the 8 stages of EMDR? ›

EMDR is an eight-phase treatment method. History taking, client preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure and reevaluation of treatment effect are the eight phases of this treatment which are briefly described.

Does PTSD go away after EMDR? ›

What Type of Treatment Is This? Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy—or talk therapy—for PTSD. EMDR can help you process upsetting memories, thoughts, and feelings related to the trauma. By processing these experiences, you can get relief from PTSD symptoms.

Does EMDR get rid of anxiety? ›

EMDR therapy is an effective treatment option for people suffering from anxiety, panic, PTSD, or trauma. It's a way to get past your past. EMDR is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma.

Is EMDR better than psychotherapy? ›

Compared to talk therapy, EMDR is often a faster and more efficient way to overcome traumas. It can also provide results that last an entire lifetime. Another thing that our therapists love about EMDR is that it can be used alongside other treatment modalities.

What symptoms does EMDR reduce? ›

What conditions and problems does EMDR treat? The most widespread use of EMDR is for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental healthcare providers also use it in the treatment of the following conditions: Anxiety disorders: Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias and social anxiety/phobia.

Can EMDR make PTSD worse? ›

Can EMDR Treatment Make You Feel Worse? Yes. Many of us cope by using the only method we have; avoidance. Because thinking, talking and reflecting on things makes us feel uncomfortable, we can make ourselves feel better in the moment by ignoring or minimizing our distress.

Can you dissociate during EMDR? ›

They can easily dissociate while trying to think of the traumas they experienced in their childhoods. Learning how to help clients find ways to stay present is essential in the Preparation Phase of EMDR Therapy.

What is supposed to happen during EMDR? ›

During these counseling sessions, the client and therapist together work through specific memories, negative beliefs, and emotional focus while engaging in sets of bilateral stimulation such as eye movements or repeated gentle taps.

How many sessions of EMDR for complex PTSD? ›

EMDR is an individual therapy typically delivered one to two times per week for an average of 6-12 sessions, although some people benefit from fewer, and some from more sessions.

What are the 2 primary goals of EMDR? ›

The overall goals of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) [Trauma Treatment (Adults)] are: Target the past events that trigger disturbance. Target the current situations that trigger disturbance. Determine the skills and education needed for future functioning.

What does a typical EMDR session look like? ›

While the client focuses on the upsetting event, the therapist will begin sets of side-to-side eye movements, sounds, or taps. The client will be guided to notice what comes to mind after each set. They may experience shifts in insight or changes in images, feelings, or beliefs regarding the event.

What do EMDR therapists look for? ›

The therapist helps the client rate the positive belief as well as the intensity of the negative emotions. After this, the client is instructed to focus on the image, negative thought, and body sensations while simultaneously engaging in EMDR processing using sets of bilateral stimulation.

How long should an EMDR session last? ›

EMDR therapy is usually done in a series of sessions, with each session lasting 60–90 minutes. The number of sessions needed will vary depending on the severity of the trauma.

Why are you so tired after EMDR? ›

The most significant side effect of EMDR therapy is that you will feel tired after about 10-15 minutes of processing. I explain to my clients this is a good thing as your amygdala is now giving up hoarding the old distressing memories and allowing the rest of the brain to process them naturally.

Do you feel worse before better with EMDR? ›

As I tell my clients, EMDR can make things more painful following a session, especially if you are working on a new painful splinter. What's important to remember is that this is all part of the healing process; even if things get worse for a moment that moment will not last and you will be better than before.

What happens after your first EMDR? ›

What to Expect After EMDR. Aside from reprocessing trauma and relieving trauma response symptoms, there are a few EMDR therapy side effects that you should be aware of. Some people experience realistic or vivid dreams, lightheadedness, or an increased sense of awareness after an EMDR session.

Where do you feel EMDR in your body? ›

You may experience a tingling feeling in your fingers or a hollow feeling in your stomach or some other sensations in your body. (The ability to identify and distinguish body sensations, to recognize stress or tension in your body, is an essential prerequisite to beginning EMDR therapy.)

Can EMDR heal childhood trauma? ›

Treating Child Abuse Trauma With EMDR. EMDR has been successful in treating trauma from childhood abuse in victims and survivors young and old.

What is considered complex trauma? ›

Complex trauma describes both children's exposure to multiple traumatic events—often of an invasive, interpersonal nature—and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure. These events are severe and pervasive, such as abuse or profound neglect.

What makes a good EMDR therapist? ›

These qualities, as defined by former clients, include therapist personality, an ability to empower clients, flexibility, intuition, a sense of ease and comfort in working with trauma, and a commitment to the small measures of caring that clients identify as helping them feel safer.

How do you know if therapist is EMDR certified? ›

How do I know if clinicians listed on your website are certified by EMDRIA? Please go to go to

Can any therapist do EMDR? ›

EMDR therapy is a mental health intervention. As such, it should only be offered by properly trained and licensed mental health clinicians.

What are the different types of EMDR therapy? ›

Types of Bilateral Stimulation for EMDR Therapy
  • Eye Movements- light bar or wand.
  • Tactile- hand held device or self tapping.
  • Auditory- sound through head phones.
Jun 27, 2021

How long does it take to see results from EMDR? ›

Each individual reacts differently to EMDR therapy, but as a general rule, a typical session will last anywhere between 60-90 minutes. Getting to the bottom of a traumatic memory and completely rewiring your brain can take anywhere between three to twelve sessions.

How long does it take for EMDR to start working? ›

Some people have even reported seeing improvement in their symptoms after as little as 3 EMDR sessions. If you've been through years of traditional talk therapy and haven't been seeing the progress you'd expected, this might be a good sign that it's time to give EMDR therapy a try.

What part of the brain does EMDR calm? ›

EMDR temporarily slows your over-stimulated amygdala down and synchronises your brain waves helping you process the traumatic memory. This suggests that during EMDR therapy the traumatic memories are continuously “reactivated, replayed and encoded into existing memory networks”.

What is the difference between EMDR trained and EMDR certified? ›

Once you have completed an EMDR Training, you are considered an EMDR trained clinician. EMDR Certification requires additional levels of continuing education and consultation in EMDR and is a separate process.

Do you talk about the trauma in EMDR? ›

EMDR therapy doesn't require talking in detail about a distressing issue. EMDR instead focuses on changing the emotions, thoughts or behaviors that result from a distressing experience (trauma). This allows your brain to resume a natural healing process.

How much does EMDR cost? ›

The average cost of EMDR therapy ranges on average from $150 – $200 for a 60-minute session. With that said, this type of treatment is considered to be the most cost-effective treatment for individuals suffering with PTSD. Sessions will also differ in length depending on your treatment plan.

How long does EMDR usually last? ›

EMDR therapy is usually done in a series of sessions, with each session lasting 60–90 minutes. The number of sessions needed will vary depending on the severity of the trauma.

What is the butterfly hug method? ›

The Butterfly Hug is accomplished by an individual wrap their arms around themselves, so that each hand touches the opposite upper arm or shoulder. They then move their hands like the wings of a butterfly, to tap their arms/shoulders in an alternating rhythm. (as an alternative, the person might just tap their knees.)

What are the 8 stages of EMDR therapy? ›

EMDR is an eight-phase treatment method. History taking, client preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure and reevaluation of treatment effect are the eight phases of this treatment which are briefly described.


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