Reflections from a Diplomat: EMDRIA & PESI

By Jamie Marich, M.A. (ABD), LPCC-S, LICDC

I was born into the role of diplomat. My mother was a highly educated Democratic Catholic, and my father was a blue-collar Republican Evangelical. For those of you football fans who get the reference, Mom was a Steelers fan and Dad was a Browns fan. I share this anecdote about the small-t trauma of my upbringing to better illustrate the diplomatic spirit with which I write this commentary on EMDRIA’s current concerns about PESI and their EMDR programming.

My position is a unique one. I am an EMDRIA member, Certified Therapist, Consultant-in Training, and Regional Coordinator.  I am also a supporter of PESI, having attended several of their workshops. Last year, aware of my experience as a continuing education facilitator, PESI offered to sponsor my course Demystifying EMDR, a psychoeducational, “try before you buy” seminar (I know that opinions on such seminars are mixed but I personally think they are valuable…another subject for another blog), and I accepted. Because of my dedication to EMDRIA, I declined to do EMDR training for PESI. However, I do not feel that we should immediately write them off or dismiss them as dangerous because they do not adhere to our way of doing things. Clinicians and clinical support systems out there have a genuine interest in EMDR, but their interests differ from those of us who support EMDRIA. PESI saw this, and as business people, responded to the consumer demand. Not every clinician out there can afford EMDRIA-approved training, even with HAP discount rates being offered for non-profits. Moreover, not every clinician is interested in spending the bulk of their time working with trauma…does this mean that they should be cut off from learning the parts of EMDR that may be relevant to them?

If we are going to view EMDR as an approach to psychotherapy, then we need to spend more time examining why people are interested in EMDR but not necessarily interested in doing things “our way.” Yes, I understand that there is a need for standards. But the natural diplomat in me asks, whose standards? What has informed our community’s model of what we see as good training other than Dr. Shapiro and the collective experiences of other trainers? In my research reviews, I have found no systematized research about the effectiveness of EMDR training models. This research needs to take place. I would challenge that we need to research the approved model and research what PESI or others may be doing with EMDR training. I think we naturally assume that because their training is only a two-day format, that it is inferior. This may be the case, I admit that. However, let us not condemn it until we investigate it objectively and see how those who are being trained through PESI are using it with their clients.

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About EMDR

The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) is a professional association where EMDR practitioners and EMDR researchers seek the highest standards for the clinical use of EMDR. EMDR is an accepted psychotherapy by leading mental health organizations throughout the world for the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. This website provides information to the greater EMDR community including clinicians, researchers, and the public that our members serve.

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