May 30, 2019

There is an informal joke among many of my therapist friends that we are “certification junkies.”  One of my most intelligent and esteemed colleagues often told me if there was a class that had a certification, she felt obligated to complete it all the way through.  To start it and not finish it, felt a little bit like a failure.

We both acknowledged that this was not always rational.  We both are lifelong learners who take classes out of curiosity and a thirst to learn new things and stay fresh.  But, we both struggle with this need to “finish things” and “be credentialed” in some way as a measure of our learning and progress.

Case in point: 

In 2016, I attended the Basic Training for a model that had been on my training bucket list for many years.  It is called EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) is the professional organization where you can find all of the information about EMDR training, certification, membership and referrals.

There is nothing basic about the EMDR Basic Training.   You can learn about it on the EMDRIA website here.  But basically, EMDRIA requires that:

“These minimum training requirements include: 20 hours instructional material, 20 hours supervised practicum, and 10 hours consultation.

After completing that process (which can be done over a couple of months, during a University semester course, or a customized intensive experience), a licensed mental health professional is considered “EMDR Trained.”

That means that you can continue to use EMDR with your clients.


If you are really interested in becoming more proficient with EMDR and want to expand your expertise, you can become EMDR Certified.

And therein lies the rub…

I was “finished” and yet “not finished.”   

Because I am one of those lifelong learners, the idea of becoming certified was appealing to my intellectual curiosity as well as my internal need to know more so that I could be more helpful to my clients.

But, certification was a longer process.  I headed back to the EMDRIA website to learn that to become certified, you need to:

 “have completed an EMDRIA approved training program in EMDR therapy, have conducted a minimum of fifty clinical sessions in which EMDR was utilized, and have received twenty hours of consultation in EMDR by an Approved Consultant. To show continuing education for this credential, they must complete twelve hours of continuing education in EMDR every two years.” 

There is no time like the present to start something, right?  I had just finished the basic training and was using EMDR with many of my clients (adults AND children) and enjoyed the consultation process.   

And so I immediately looked for opportunities to get additional consultation.  

But, it wasn’t working out. 

I tried to join a group led by my trainer.  It was a fabulous group, but was being held in another time zone and the days and times just were not matching up with my busy private practice schedule.   

I could move things around, but it just didn’t seem to fit.

I tried to join a group with a hugely popular and well known clinician in the EMDR field.  It took weeks just to get a response from this person’s office manager. When I finally got put into a group, I was elated!    

But on my first group meeting, I learned that there had been an error.  This group was for the people who needed that basic training consultation. The “advanced” group was…… FULL! 

I was annoyed and disappointed. 

During this time, I was using EMDR in my practice and finding it to be very beneficial to my clients.  We were making progress and I was feeling comfortable with my skills and with discussions I was having with colleagues about EMDR in a more informal way. 

And I started to look at the to-do list.   A certified EMDR consultant can then become a “Consultant in Training”  and then an Approved Consultant and then an EMDR Training Provider and then an EMDR Credit Provider.   

Did I really want to go down that entire road?  

Was the return on that financial investment worth it? Or was it “good enough” to be trained?  I started looking at the fees for membership and the fees for renewal. I was already a member of other professional organizations that had membership and renewal fees. 

What is worth it???

I felt like it WAS a good investment and a good fit for my practice.  But the timing wasn’t right. 

And so I effectively “let it go.”

I continued to read about EMDR and practice it.  But I decided to stop actively pursuing the certification.  And it was OKAY. In fact, just a few months ago, I read this EMDR related book called “Easy Ego State Interventions” by Robin Shapiro.  It was a great book!  I was able to put things I learned from that book into practice. 

And then one day, very randomly, in another non-EMDR related Facebook group, a colleague casually asked who was EMDR trained and who might be interested in a consultation group?  

I didn’t even think twice and responded “Me!” 

EMDR certification wasn’t on my radar, but this time the timing (and the price) was a perfect fit.  

And about a month after joining the consultation group, a DIFFERENT colleague posted in my Facebook group (Play Therapy Summit) about an online EMDR training on (drum roll)... 


And would you know that it is 12 hours of training (the exact amount that you need to finish your EMDR certification).

So, in the past three years, without being totally consciously aware, I have been working towards EMDR certification.  And now, it seems probable that I will be EMDR certified by the end of 2019.

I say all of that to say this: 

In the play therapy community, there are a lot of changes happening regarding the Registered Play Therapist Credential.  You can learn about them at the Association for Play Therapy Website.  

And, some people are discouraged because they were planning and hoping to be finished this year.  Some people will finish; others won’t. 

But,  my encouragement is to borrow a phrase from EMDR which  is “go with that.” 

Respect the timing and pace of your learning environment.  Trust the process to take you where it needs to go in whatever winding process that it takes to get you there. 

You are always learning.   

My investment in EMDR in was not a waste of time, energy or money.  My “failure” to finish the certification in 2016 was not a failure at all.  

Becoming EMDR Certified in 2019 is an accomplishment and it makes me a better EMDR clinician.

But it doesn’t define me.  

It is just one part.    

But, truth be that the certification is close, I do have a tiny urge to become a “consultant in training”  because, why not?? 

Follow the opportunities that are in front of you to learn new things about topics that you are curious about.  

The journey is more important than the destination.

If you want to follow along with ways that I incorporate play therapy techniques and theories into my parenting and play therapy practice, please subscribe to the mailing list.

About the Author

Jen Taylor, LCSW-C, RPT-S is an EMDR Approved Consultant and Certified Journal to the Self Instructor.  She is a therapist specializing in complex trauma, an international play therapy teacher and a published writer of multiple play therapy chapters.  Jen is the creator of the original 2017 Play Therapy Summit and many other innovative programs for mental health professionals.  Jen uses writing therapy, play therapy and expressive arts for her clients and for other mental health professionals so they can lead more joyful and meaningful lives.  Jen encourages people to try new things and create daily habits that allow for incremental progress towards previously unimaginable results.   Jen is a travel enthusiast, an avid reader, and a girl who lifts weights and runs for fun.  

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