Choosing an EMDR Therapist

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Kelly O'Horo, EMDR Facilitator and Approved Consultant and Founder of Infinite Healing and Wellness, and Jaime Castillo, EMDR Approved Consultant in Training, Founder of Find Your Shine Therapy, discuss the EMDR Therapy training progression and important things to consider as well as questions you should ask when choosing an EMDR Therapist.


Jaime Castillo:


Hi, I'm Jamie Castillo, founder and clinical director of Find Your Shine Therapy in Tempe, Arizona. I'm here with.


Kelly O'Horo:


Hi, I'm Kelly O'Horo, founder of Infinite Healing & Wellness, an EMDR center for excellence in Gilbert and Phoenix, Arizona.


Jaime Castillo:


Today's video is on things to consider when looking for an EMDR therapist. So EMDR therapy is one of two of the top treatments for treating trauma according to the World Health Organization. EMDR is really a way of seeing clients, the lens through which you conceptualize a client's trauma and history and path to healing. So there are some questions that you can ask an EMDR therapist prior to scheduling an appointment with them to make sure that the person that you're getting is going to be as helpful as possible.


Kelly O'Horo:


There's many qualifications that can happen with an EMDR therapist. So an EMDR therapist who is basic trained has some hours of consultation, 10 hours of consultation, in addition to at least two weekends that consists of three days long to become a basic trained EMDR therapist. The next step is to be a certified therapist who has an additional 20 hours of consultation and additional 50 hours of EMDR therapy under their belt with 25 clients, as well as an advanced training to improve their knowledge and skills. Then after that, someone might become an approved consultant, and in that role, they would then offer consultation to other clinicians who would like to become certified in EMDR therapy. Then to take it one step further, you could become faculty and become a facilitator in the EMDR training programs or a trainer of EMDR therapy. So there is a little bit of a career ladder in this profession.


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah. Thanks for that explanation. So the first question, one of the first questions that you might ask a prospective therapist who's trained in EMDR at one of those levels is do you see EMDR as a tool or a theory?


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. So EMDR is actually a theory based in adaptive information processing. So it's really such a robust thing because it really starts with case conceptualization from history taking all the way through treatment plan completion. So a lot of people think EMDR therapy is just phase four, where we're doing the bilateral stimulation. When in fact, EMDR therapy has a lot of other steps. In fact, there's eight phases to EMDR therapy. So you want to ask a clinician when interviewing them for whether they'll be your perspective therapist, do they see EMDR as a tool that they use sometimes or do they see it as encompassing theory by which they view and the lens that they look through your whole case and why anything that you're doing might be a symptom or a problem in your life. Another question that you might want to ask is can EMDR therapy work if I don't think that I have any trauma or I think I had a pretty happy childhood, but I still have some symptoms that I want to address?


Jaime Castillo:


Yes, absolutely. So this is a really important question because I think when people think of trauma, they think of the big T stuff, right? They think of severe abuse or neglect, or combat veterans, things like that. Really, trauma is anything that exceeds our ability to cope that we weren't prepared to handle. So I think that we all have trauma to some extent, whether that's big T or little T. Really, trauma is stored in ourselves and our bodies. So even if we don't think cognitively that something is still impacting us, it's likely that any symptoms such as anxiety, depression, things that don't really fit the facts of right now are an indication that there's something from our past that might be stuck that's causing those symptoms today.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. One of my mentors once said, if it's hysterical, it's historical. So we know that if it's big, it's probably rooted in something old.


Jaime Castillo:


So the next question that you might want to ask a potential EMDR therapist is, can I process things that I don't remember? Or what if I have trauma that I don't necessarily remember, or that is from generations before me?


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. Well, the thing about trauma is it's stored in the body. So we have memory that is implicit, meaning we don't always have explicit memories or things that from around ages two to three years old, where we have full pictures of color and the five senses that go with it, we have memory that's implicit or cellularly stored. So we can actually process things like birth trauma. We can process maybe mom had postpartum depression. So we have symptoms of feeling like cold or unlovable and we don't really understand where that comes from. So it's really cool because there are specific protocols that we can use to address even implicit or generational trauma for the stuff that we can't even remember. Another good question that you should ask an EMDR therapist is if they get regular consultation.


Jaime Castillo:


Yes. So Kelly describes the different phases. There's sort of a continuum of education around EMDR and different levels of training. It really doesn't matter where you fall on that continuum. Consultation is important at any stage. So there's always new research coming out. There's always more to learn no matter how much of an expert you are. So getting ongoing consultation and continued education should really, I would say, be a value of a really good EMDR therapist is that consistent learning.


Kelly O'Horo:


That's a great way to say that, a value, because we really are... There's so much of the brain we don't fully understand. Although we know that EMDR therapy works, there's still a lot of speculation on exactly why or how it works. So we just continue to improve and get better. So for someone that has continuous ongoing consultation, that really should be an important thing. So I really appreciate that. Another question that I think is important to ask, and a lot of people would be, I think, reluctant to ask this as a client, but also there might be therapists that are reluctant to answer this. So hopefully you find someone that is not reluctant to answer this question, which is, do you get therapy yourself or have you been in therapy yourself and how do you feel about that?


Jaime Castillo:


Yeah, that's a great one. I think it's really important to, as an EMDR therapist, to be constantly... I'm sorry, let me back up. Maybe not constantly, but doing your own work because as a therapist, you need to have your own stuff well-managed. There's a saying we don't work in our own backyard, right? So if we have all of our own unresolved stuff that can come up and impact our ability to really attune or be with clients in the room. So that's kind of another value is we need to practice what we preach and do our own work.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. We don't want to ask clients to go somewhere that we've never been. So even through the EMDR therapy training process, the entire afternoons of our training are devoted to doing work on one another so that we really understand what the client is going to be asked to go through as the user of it. So a lot of times, what EMDR therapists realize is, well, I have a lot of work to do because I didn't know those things were there, and so the training really starts to kick up a lot of our stuff. Someone who avoids that is probably a clinician to avoid for your own work because they will be a much better therapist if they continue their own work and admit to doing so, because there's also really no shame in continuing our own work.


Jaime Castillo:


Absolutely. Yeah. So we hope this was a helpful video. Feel free to ask any of these questions of a potential new therapist and take what you like and maybe discard the rest. Know that there's a range of responses that you might get. Remember that the number one predictor of client success in therapy is the quality of the client-therapist relationship. So more so than the therapist checking all of these boxes that we've named, really try to tune in and get a feel for - could I sit in a room with this person, what's the feeling that I get sitting across from this person, because the quality of the relationship will have a huge impact on whether or not you get better.


Kelly O'Horo:


Right. I always tell my clients, I'm not everybody's flavor and that's totally okay, because it really is important that in that relationship, you could feel a sense of safety and an eventual establishment of trust with that clinical relationship. I always tell my clients, give it at least three sessions because the first couple of sessions are so uncomfortable and awkward anyway. We want to make sure you're giving it its full time and then bring to the therapist what was bothering you so that they can give you an appropriate response as well as potential referrals of someone else that might be a good fit so that it doesn't waste your time. For more information on how to find a therapist, you can go to the website, emdria.org, where you can filter on types of EMDR therapists in your region.


Jaime Castillo:


Take good care.


For more Information you can visit our websites at infinitehealingandwellness.com and findyourshinetherapy.com


You can watch the full video here


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