Finding a therapist who’s right for you is a vital part of the healing process.  Because qualified EMDR practitioners are not nearly as common as traditional psychotherapists, it may take more effort to locate a suitable professional.  That being said, it still is quite possible to find a skilled EMDR therapist.

Before we discuss some tips to look for such a therapist, let’s take a moment to talk about EMDR first. It’s important for you to have some basic understanding of EMDR, as that will help you narrow down your choices. 

What is EMDR?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapeutic modality that treats people who have suffered a life-changing event, especially if the event was traumatic in nature. It utilizes specific techniques to reduce and even eliminate the negative emotional burden attached to the trauma. EMDR is designed to neutralize the trauma by changing how the brain perceives and stores the traumatic memory. By removing the negative emotions associated with the event, the person is able to move forward, regain self-confidence, feel more in control of their lives, and no longer feel like a victim. Numerous studies have supported the efficacy of EMDR for the treatment of trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a chronic disorder related to unresolved trauma. (A review of several studies can be found in Frontiers in Psychology .)

EMDR has been found to be particularly beneficial for those who have suffered a single traumatic event opposed to people who have been repeatedly exposed to trauma. The process involves focusing on a specific traumatic memory while simultaneously paying attention to an external stimuli. This typically involves following a moving object with the eyes. The theory is that by focusing on something else while reliving the traumatic memory, the patient is able to form new associations with the traumatic event that do not have a negative impact. The technique gives the brain space to “digest” and release the previously unprocessed trauma. EMDR is an 8 stage process that is carried out by a therapist over the course of several weeks. A patient may meet with a therapist weekly or biweekly for a total of 8-12 sessions. Some patients show improvements as early as the third or fourth session.

How to Find The Best EMDR Therapist Near You?

Making the decision to heal requires strength and bravery.  Many of us invest a great deal of time and energy into running away from our pain instead of facing it.  EMDR has been proven to be a quick and efficient treatment for trauma.  This modality is quite structured and specific, so it is important to find a therapist who understands how the process works.  It is equally important to locate a professional with whom you feel comfortable and can establish a strong working relationship.  Positive rapport with your therapist is vital in the healing process.  However, finding a qualified EMDR therapist is not always as easy as we would like.  Luckily, we have a few tips to help solve this problem.

Find an EMDR Therapist in Your City

Match with an EMDR therapist on BetterHelp

BetterHelp can match you with qualified therapists local to you or from anywhere in the World. They have over 25,000 therapists on their platform and many are trained in EMDR therapy.

There is a short questionnaire to complete which will help with the matching process.

EMDR therapy through BetterHelp is affordable (they charge a fixed monthly subscription rather than a per hour rate) and it’s convenient as you get the benefits of EMDR therapy without leaving your home.

Try self-guided virtual EMDR therapy

It may come as a surprise that EMDR therapy can be self-administered. 

While seeing a therapist is best, self-guided EMDR is an option if there are financial or geographic barriers, or a lack of timely access to appropriate care. 

We recommend VirtualEMDR, the leading option for self-guided virtual EMDR therapy.  Their virtual EMDR tool is based on the same stages and principles that are used by therapists and it can be administered from home.  Their tool is designed to process and normalize the emotions related to difficult life events, allowing you to move forward and live life more fully.  It may also be preferable for those who prefer to work independently. Read our full review.

Other Options

-The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) is the official organization for EMDR-trained therapists from around the world.  Their website has a provider directory where you can find an accredited therapist near you by entering your location.  The website can also be used to confirm if a therapist has the official certification.  Keep in mind that EMDR Certification is optional.  There are competent EMDR therapists who have not been certified.

-A quick phone consultation is a good way to get a sense of a potential therapist’s personality, skill, and style.  It is a good idea to ask the therapist about his/her credentials, how the EMDR process works, and their personal approach.  The answers to these questions should help you decide if the therapist is knowledgeable and if s/he is a good fit.  A professional, courteous therapist will be willing to concisely explain what EMDR is and what to expect. 

-Some people are much more comfortable with a personal recommendation from someone they trust.  You can always consult with a healthcare provider to see if they are aware of any qualified EMDR therapists.  You can also ask friends or family members for a recommendation.  You can always ask to speak to a therapist and ask the therapist specifically about EMDR treatment.

The Takeaway

EMDR has been empirically proven to effective for treating trauma in many people.  The fact that EMDR works quickly and can accomplish within weeks what typically takes years to achieve makes it a particularly desirable option.  With modern technology it is even possible to benefit from EMDR from home without physically seeing a therapist.  If you would prefer to see a therapist in person, follow the previously mentioned tips to find a practitioner who is right for you.