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Qualities of a Good EMDR Therapist

Choosing the right EMDR therapist can be a crucial factor in the success of in therapy. When looking for an EMDR therapist, there are several key qualities to consider.

Firstly, a good EMDR therapist should be skilled in assessing for dissociation. Dissociation is a common symptom experienced by individuals who have undergone traumatic experiences.

It is a coping mechanism that allows the individual to detach from the present moment in order to avoid overwhelming emotions. However, dissociation can also hinder the effectiveness of EMDR therapy. A skilled EMDR therapist will know how to assess for dissociation and help you work through it in order to effectively process past experiences.

Secondly, it is important to look for an EMDR therapist who has received proper training and is EMDRIA certified. EMDRIA (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing International Association) is an organization that sets standards for EMDR therapists and provides certification for those who meet the necessary requirements. By choosing an EMDRIA-certified therapist, you can ensure that your therapist has received proper training and has demonstrated competency in EMDR therapy.

Thirdly, a good EMDR therapist should know how to guide you through the EMDR process. EMDR involves recalling traumatic experiences while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones. A skilled EMDR therapist will know how to guide you through this process and provide support as needed. (also include something about the nervous system here.

Fourthly whoever you choose as a therapist, should have some education in knowing how to read your nervous system. Doing EMDR, especially with humans who have complex trauma, or attachment concerns, often requires modified versions of EMDR, that align themselves with how your nervous system works for you. An absence of this knowledge often leads my clients to report worse outcomes from therapy, or not much impact on their trauma.

An example of this, came from a client I'll call Mike. Mike didn't do well with eye movements, and after some conversation, we found that Mike needed a tactile version of EMDR, that we customized for him.

Fifth your EMDR therapist needs to be a therapist with great interpersonal skills and an ability to connect deeply with you. While this might seem a given, due to them being a therapist, I will often have clients report that they felt their therapist "just didn't get them" and from this space they weren't able to get into the headspace they needed to have EMDR be impactful.

Finally, it is important to find an EMDR therapist who respects your process and works collaboratively with you. EMDR can be a challenging process, and it is important to feel comfortable and supported throughout your therapy. A good EMDR therapist will respect your autonomy and work with you to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs.

Research has shown that these qualities are crucial in the effectiveness of EMDR therapy. A study by Hase et al. (2008) found that therapist competence in EMDR was positively associated with treatment outcome. Another study by Lee et al. (2018) found that a collaborative therapeutic relationship was an important predictor of successful EMDR therapy.

In conclusion, when choosing an EMDR therapist, it is important to look for someone who is skilled in assessing for dissociation, has received proper training and certification, knows how to guide you through the EMDR process, and respects your process and works collaboratively with you. By considering these qualities, you can increase your chances of finding a therapist who can effectively help you work through past traumas and achieve your therapeutic goals.


Hase, M., Schallmayer, S., & Sack, M. (2008). EMDR reprocessing of the addiction memory: Pretreatment, posttreatment, and 1-month follow-up. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 2(3), 170-179.

Lee, C. W., Cuijpers, P., Gentili, C., & van Dalen, H. (2018). The efficacy of EMDR for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in survivors of sexual abuse: A meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 48(15), 2475-2484.

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