EMDR Trained vs. Certified: How the Difference Improves Your Practice

EMDR therapy dates back to the late 1980s. In the several decades since, how we define a “qualified” EMDR therapist has significantly evolved, and becoming an EMDR-certified therapist is now the standard for EMDR clinicians. Yet, there remains a misunderstanding of EMDR trained vs. certified.

The practice of EMDR is multi-faceted and accounts for the neurobiological system’s innate trauma response, self-healing, and regulation. A client’s attachment style, any dissociative coping that’s present, and the client’s mental model of the world can and should shape how you treat them using EMDR—not to mention your own attunement and calming presence.

Together, the above factors can create an environment and process that fosters deep healing for the client. However, applying them all correctly takes time to master, which is why the difference between EMDR basic training and getting certified in EMDR is so substantial. Understanding the implications of each can help you better serve your patients and improve your practice. 

EMDR Training

Providing EMDR therapy requires a significant depth of understanding, and there are considerable layers for clinicians to learn as they improve. Developing expertise in the EMDR field starts by completing basic training, which teaches the framework for EMDR and lays the foundation for integrating EMDR into your clinical practice.

Once you’ve completed basic training, you’re considered “EMDR Trained.” EMDR training can be either virtual or in person, and the course structure varies from training to training. Our EMDR basic training includes:

  • At least 50 hours of content that complies with EMDRIA standards
  • Interactive lectures
  • Consultations and break-out rooms to discuss your practice in depth
  • Pods of 9-10 clinicians who move through training together
  • Extensive libraries of content and resources to support you during training and beyond
  • Preparation for EMDR certification.

EMDR Certification

After you complete EMDR basic training, you can work toward EMDR certification, which refers to the process for a therapist to become officially recognized as trained and competent in administering EMDR therapy. It’s best to move toward certification immediately after training while concepts and best practices are still fresh in your mind.

Certification requirements can vary depending on the country or organization providing the certification. Here at EMDR Center of the Rockies, we follow the EMDRIA certification in EMDR.

To become certified, you must have:

  • Taken an EMDRIA Approved EMDR basic training
  • 20 hours of post-training consultation
  • Provided EMDR therapy to 25 different clients for a total of at least 50 hours
  • Attended 12 hours of EMDRIA-approved advanced training
  • A license to practice as a mental health clinician by the time you submit your application for certification to EMDRIA

How to Become EMDR Certified

Certification ensures that therapists have received adequate training and consultation to effectively and safely administer EMDR therapy to clients. Here’s how to earn your certification and show your clients you have the skills to help them:

  1. Complete EMDR Basic Training: Find an EMDRIA Approved course or register for one of our upcoming EMDRIA Approved in person or virtual trainings. Completing your coursework successfully is how you start the transition from EMDR trained vs. certified.
  2. Take EMDR Advanced Training: Enroll in an advanced course or courses after you’ve finished your beginner course. You need at least 12 hours of advanced training, and it’s best to continue while your basic training is still front of mind.
  3. Enroll in Consultation Toward Certification: Complete 20 consultation hours, with an EMDRIA Approved Consultant, 10 of which should be individual consultation. Many clinicians opt for a combination, drawing from group consultations to learn from other clinicians’ cases and individual consultations to dive deeper into their own approach. Some clinicians add consultation time beyond the 20 hours to build their confidence and ensure they deeply understand EMDR.
  4. Apply for Certification With EMDRIA: Complete and submit an application online and pay the fee. If the EMDRIA reviews your application and finds that you meet all the requirements, you’ll become an EMDR Certified Therapist™.

Why EMDR Certification Is Important

Understanding the difference between being EMDR certified vs. EMDR trained is crucial for patients who want to find a clinician qualified to help them process their unique trauma. EMDR certification also plays a role in:

  1. Quality Assurance: Certification ensures that therapists have undergone comprehensive training and consultation in EMDR therapy. This helps maintain standards of quality and competence in the practice of EMDR, ensuring that clients receive effective and ethical treatment.
  2. Safety: EMDR therapy involves the processing of traumatic memories and experiences, which can be emotionally intense for clients. Certified therapists have honed the knowledge and skills to guide clients safely through therapy, minimizing the risk of retraumatization or other adverse effects.
  3. Efficacy: Research has shown that EMDR therapy can be highly effective in treating trauma-related disorders like PTSD in addition to many other issues ranging from addictions, anxiety, grief, chronic pain and illness, and more. EMDR certified therapists have refined their skills in this evidence-based technique using protocols that have been shown to produce positive outcomes for clients.
  4. Professionalism: Certification demonstrates a therapist’s commitment to professional development and adherence to ethical standards. It reassures clients that their therapist is dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest developments in the field and delivering competent care.
  5. Recognition: Being certified in EMDR therapy can enhance a therapist’s credibility and reputation within the mental health community. It may also make them more attractive to clients seeking specialized treatment for trauma-related concerns.

Start Your Journey to becoming an EMDR Certified Therapist

EMDR has become a mainstream approach to therapy. Yet as EMDR’s profile has grown, so has clinicians’ need to apply it to their practices effectively.

Becoming an EMDR-certified clinician can greatly improve your practice, but only if you take the proper steps to get there. Starting with a reputable and EMDRIA Approved, EMDR basic training can help you stand out as an exceptional EMDR therapist and pave the way for earning the EMDRIA’s approval.


Do you have to be certified to do EMDR?
No, you don’t necessarily have to be certified to practice EMDR therapy, but it’s highly recommended. It demonstrates that you can provide effective care for your clients and adhere to professional standards that protect vulnerable populations.

How long does it take to get EMDR certified?
It typically takes several months to a year—or more—to get EMDR certified. That said, the time to certification varies, especially because many therapists seek certification while managing an active practice. EMDR training can last from five to eight days or longer, and you then need to complete 20 hours of post-training consultation, plus several other items (mentioned above) before applying for certification.

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