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.

BUT….

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)... 

EGO STATE INTERVENTIONS with none other than ROBIN SHAPIRO.

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 told...now 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.

Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at info@jentaylorplaytherapy.com

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