By Jamie Marich, Ph.D., EMDRIA Member
Submitted January 1, 2010
EMDRIA members who know me know that I have a natural devil’s advocate streak. I wish to exercise some of those muscles in this blog post. I do not see this as a scientific retort by any means, just a simple expression of my opinion as a clinician and a qualitative researcher regarding the recent publication of the EMDR Definition Revision by the EMDRIA Board of Directors.
First of all, I am delighted that the EMDRIA Board of Directors employed and disclosed their use of qualitative inquiry in facilitating their review process. However, my question to them is this: Why were only “those practitioners who are esteemed in the EMDR community” with 15 years of more of EMDR experience consulted in this review? Are they the only ones who have valuable information to share about what constitutes EMDR and how it can be best applied in to actual practice settings? For instance, would EMDRIA ever consider that the experience of regular clinicians who went through trainings but are not luminaries in the EMDR movement could be just as valuable? Consider, for instance, the clinician who went through a standard training but went back to his/her practice setting and found the standard protocol too cumbersome to implement. Consider the clinician who, through trial and error, was able to seamlessly incorporate certain elements of EMDR with their existing therapeutic orientation. Consider the EMDR clinician who goes through training and uses EMDR but doesn’t feel inclined, for financial or other reasons, to get involved with EMDRIA. Consider the clinician who is new to EMDR as a clinician but went through EMDR herself as a patient first; there is a double perspective there that can be accessed.
Expert comes from the Latin root that means “a person wise through experience.” I think we often make the false assumption that experience is commensurate with years put in, but this cannot be farther from the truth. Experience is also of Latin origin, meaning knowledge gained through repeated trials. One year of experience could be just as valuable as fifteen depending on the content of that experience. Moreover, the clinician’s experience is not necessarily the most informative when it comes to determining what constitutes EMDR. Talk to the clients who have gone through EMDR treatment; ask them what EMDR means to them as they reflect back on their experiences with EMDR. My guess is that relational elements, not necessarily protocol or procedural elements, are of optimum importance to them. Much of my research interest as a qualitative researcher delves into this area of talking to former clients about their experiences. Trust me EMDRIA, you will get a wealth of information about what EMDR means to the people it serves when you do that.