EMDR supervision
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Supervision: An EMDR Therapy Approach

    On 31 Jan, 2024

This article is the second in a three-part series on supervision. We spoke to three psychologists who are also supervisors. In this article, we share the thoughts of a psychologist using Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. We also spoke to a psychodynamic psychotherapist as well as a couples therapist using Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT).

Therapists are required to receive regular supervision from an appropriately qualified supervisor. Supervision supports the therapist while educating and evaluating the therapist’s work. We asked three psychologists how they became supervisors and how their supervision sessions were structured. In addition, we also asked them what they enjoyed about being a supervisor.

Journey to EMDR

Shaima Al Fardan is a certified EMDRIA consultant and trainer. She works as a psychologist at Mubadala Health in Dubai. Shaima has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the US. She specializes in trauma, mainly sexual, physical and verbal abuse, in the context of interpersonal and domestic violence using EMDR. She also has a special interest in substance abuse and has extensive experience supporting the LGBTQI+ community.

Shaima’s journey to becoming an EMDR consultant started in 2007. While working with Dr Layla Asamarai at Rashid Hospital, they discussed cases and consulted with each other. During these case consultations, Dr Asamarai would talk about EMDR, and Shaima was fascinated at how EMDR could be used, for example, with victims of torture. Shaima realised she wanted to pursue training in EMDR after she heard of a case where, at the beginning of therapy, the client fulfilled the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, after EMDR therapy, the client no longer met the diagnostic criteria for BPD.

Shaima got her EMDR certifications in Europe in 2009. She returned to the UAE in 2015 and started working at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in 2016. She started using EMDR again and sought supervision from Dr Asamarai. Throughout this period, she shadowed and assisted in a few EMDR basic trainings as well. Shaima continues, ‘After a few years, I was well into being certified as an EMDRIA-approved EMDR consultant and working towards becoming a trainer for basic EMDR training.‘ 

EMDR group supervision

Supervision sessions can be group sessions or individual sessions. Shaima offers predominantly group supervision. The number of supervisees is a maximum of eight participants per group. However, this number may also vary depending on how experienced the supervisees are in EMDR therapy. Normally, 15 minutes is allocated to each supervisee to present a case. Case presentation guidelines are also distributed beforehand to aid supervisees in planning how to discuss their case. 

When asked if there are differences in group and individual supervision, Shaima says that they are subtle as the main elements of supervision remain the same in both contexts. However, in group supervision, the supervisees get to hear other therapists’ experiences on how they have applied EMDR in a time-limited manner. In individual supervision, on the other hand, the supervisee gets more time and focus on the cases that they present. 

Shaima describes her approach to EMDR supervision in the following way, ‘…[it] involves encouraging fidelity to the main core elements of EMDR therapy and the AIP (Adaptive Information Processing) model while considering how complex cases can be.  Supervision differs depending on where the supervisee is in their EMDR journey. In the beginning, it’s all about getting the steps right, but as you move forward in your journey it’s also about being creative in complex cases.’

Working within her area of competence is important, even as a supervisor. Shaima states, ‘…if supervisees discuss a population that I am not trained or feel competent working with, I would help them find a supervisor who was.’ 

Positive and life-changing results

According to Shaima, her favorite part of being a supervisor is seeing how excited supervisees and colleagues become about their work when they feel competent in practicing EMDR therapy. Shaima points out that this excitement applies to any type of therapy. It comes from being able to help a client get positive life-changing results. 

You can learn more about Shaima’s approach to therapy and supervision here. In the first part of this series, we spoke to Tima El Jamil, a psychodynamic psychotherapist. You can find the article here. Lastly, in part three, we interviewed Beata Zielińska-Rocha, an EFT therapist and supervisor. Her interview can be read here.

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