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EMDRIA Members Respond: How Can the Field of EMDR Therapy Increase Access of Care for BIPOC Individuals?

July is BIPOC Mental Health Month. We want to continue to feature the importance of confronting oppression dynamics as they can be a big part of any therapy process and relationship. People who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are confronted daily with aspects of systemic racism, one of the oppression dynamics. As part of EMDRIA’s goal of continuing the conversation around experiences, struggles, and celebrations of BIPOC clients, we asked our members for responses to one or more of the following questions:

  • “What opportunities do you see in the field of EMDR therapy to increase access of care for BIPOC individuals?”
  • “Do you have any favorite free resources regarding BIPOC populations and EMDR therapy?”

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What opportunities do you see in the field of EMDR therapy to increase access of care for BIPOC individuals?”

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“I can see that more representation of trainers from the BIPOC community and being able to have intentional space to  safe guard the learning process of the EMDR BIPOC therapist, it trickles down to clients from the BIPOC community to have more access to therapists who passionately use EMDR therapy as a healing journey.” *** Jasmine Adams, LCSW, EMDR Certified and Approved Consultant

“As a BIPOC therapist, I see that there is an opportunity for continued psychoeducation surrounding what EMDR is. Unfortunately within the BIPOC community, there is a huge stigma surrounding mental health in general. If we add on the layer of EMDR therapy, I think that many people will be discouraged because they don’t know much about it. They don’t see the benefits that come from EMDR therapy. Continuing to normalize mental health services and with that, EMDR therapy is something that would help people within the BIPOC community to be curious about EMDR and want to learn more.” *** Patricia Alvarado, LPCC, LMHC, Certified EMDR Therapist, Consultant in Training

“I believe opportunities are increasing in the field of EMDR therapy. There is a rise in  access to mental health for BIPOC clients and more EMDR trainings that are discussing cultural humility. EMDR BIPOC therapists are asking for trainings that reflect adaptations to apply EMDR therapy with minorities and the FIELD is LISTENING. TODAY, we are more aware of BIPOC experiences and needs; we see it in publications, media, and EMDR trainings. I see it in Facebook groups and Instagram posts talking about mental health, EMDR therapy, and BIPOC advocacy. Feeling hopeful and thankful.” *** Liliana Baylon, LMFT-S, RPT-S, EMDR Approved Consultant, Bilingual, Bicultural Therapist

“BIPOC folks need to see their faces on marketing, on websites. They need to be mentioned and acknowledged, their traumas need to be spoken of in order to have a sense of being welcomed or accepted or some sense of safety in the spaces they are trying to access care from. Racial and cultural traumas need to be acknowledged and mentioned via the AIP history taking process from all EMDR certified therapists, therefore a part of trainings.” *** Alicia Beltran, LCPC, LPC, EMDR Certified, Consultant-in-Training

“To better serve BIPOC clients, EMDR therapists need to gain knowledge and awareness of and commit to anti-racism work. EMDR therapists need to increase their understanding of racial trauma and the nervous system to provide multicultural and trauma-sensitive services. The increase of multi-lingual services is also an additional area the EMDR therapy field will need to grow in to increase access to care amongst BIPOC clients. Opportunities I see include telehealth helping to increase access to care.*** Jaja Chen, LCSW-S, CDWF, EMDRIA Approved Consultant

“Access of care may be based on the training and quality of the therapist population. Increase low cost training and access. Urge your consultants collecting the higher CEU fees to consider scholarship or income-based slots for basic training. Possibly match with EMDRIA monies, percentage of the membership fees?” *** Kian F Jacobs, LCSW

“I think initially, having more BIPOC counselors trained in EMDR and educating others on the trauma from a BIPOC lens to understand the dynamics of the individual.” *** Ulyssicia Lambert-Coleman (Associate Member)

There are ample opportunities to increase the care of EMDR in the BIPOC community. First off education is key and awareness that this type of treatment exists. Grad schools come to mind to educate them, internships and providing low scale fees for a short term time to help people see the benefits. Recently, I had a Latina single postpartum mom as a client and we did an 8 session low rate fee to help her transition from her postpartum phase and in the 8 sessions she healed and embraced her new life. She was thankful because she had never heard of EMDR in the past. I think more education and limited low scale fees can be life-changing.*** Evelin Lemus, MFT, EMDR Certified Therapist

“We need access to more trained BIPOC clinicians, and the few of us out there need access to BIPOC consultants. Moving through this field, and clinical trainings that come from colonial lenses can be extremely difficult emotionally and psychologically, and it is something that you cannot fully grasp without the lived experience. I would recommend actively seeking out BIPOC clinicians and providing scholarships and extra supports. I would also recommend including trainings from BIPOC clinicians on racism, cultural appropriation, and microaggressions.” *** Kiana Maillet, LCSW

“I am a Hispanic LPC in private practice located in Baton Rouge, La. Baton Rouge has a small Hispanic population and the number of bilingual therapists is very small which creates barriers especially for clients seeking trauma therapy in specific and who do not speak English. In this sense, I would like to see more of a media or online presence for EMDR-trained therapists who work with this population in specific. So I think getting the ‘word out’ into the communities, into places  like community health centers, local non-profits etc is a good place to start. However, in private practice clinicians are often busy juggling many hats so it’s not as easy to allocate time for outreach, networking, etc. Creating a space for Hispanic therapists in various regions to collaborate and use each other as a referral network would also help. I am always mindful of the office space I choose, and who the tenants are in the neighboring offices, because I do want to create an atmosphere of safety and inclusion for clients. The South is a challenging place to do this because of the discriminations we often encounter. Many of my clients live in rural areas and have trouble accessing services in this area – since we don’t have a modern or easily accessible public transportation system. All of these barriers can deter clients from seeking and obtaining specialized mental health services such as EMDR. Yet these are so needed in the communities that experience high levels of crime, vicarious trauma, etc. I’m hopeful things will change in the near future.” *** Johanna Martinez-Rink, LPC

“To increase access to mental health care for BIPOC individuals we must address racial-socioeconomic inequities, especially those that obstruct BIPOC student pathways into the professional field. Huge inequities exist in the education system. We can initiate professional outreach to local high school and community college students of color with information about the career and licensure process. We can generate grants, scholarships, and provide resources and mentorship to help students better face those challenges. Let’s put our time and wallets where our intentions are. And for ideas about self-education, visit https://www.recamft.org/justice.*** Wowlvenn Seward-Katzmiller, MFT, SEP, EMDR Therapist

One of the opportunities that I have seen particularly since the start of the pandemic is the increased use of telehealth which has increased access to care specifically regarding EMDR therapy. This is of a particular benefit for BIPOC individuals because of the ability to provide such care in the comfort of their home which can help to lessen any fears of stigma and the ability to provide timely culturally responsive care. This also provides a greater network for BIPOC individuals to possibly find providers that are from various backgrounds that might not have been as easily accessible based on the town or city in which they live.” *** Marie Smith-East, PhD, DNP, PMHNP-BC

“I truly believe that we are on the precipice of seeing a sea change in the EMDR therapy field. I see more opportunities for BIPOC therapists and thought leaders to have a broader platform. I think this is contingent on increased awareness of those who have historically had more privilege and access in our community to make space for BIPOC leaders. I believe that this systemic change is the most important step toward increasing access to care for BIPOC individuals. *** Marisol Solarte-Erlacher, LPC

In the future I would like to see more humanitarian work within BIPOC communities. Providing services to those who have experienced racial trauma. I would also like to see programs to train more BIPOC therapists and requirement to retrain all EMDR therapist on culturally sensitive matters. This could promote more diversity within the EMDR community and reduce the stigma that “EMDR doesn’t work for some people, or those people.” I can’t count how many times I’ve said “Yes EMDR works for Black folks.” The perpetual myth that Black bodies function differently is a pervasive stereotype that has fueled discrimination amongst the healthcare industry for centuries. The reality is we are open to engage when it feels safe to approach. EMDRIA should be a space where cultural humility is a standard for all clinicians and not just an option for some.” *** Yunetta Spring Smith, LPC-MHSP, NCC and EMDRIA Approved Consultant

Access to care with EMDR – more advocacy for EMDRIA to have community mental health services accept EMDR as EBP and be funded by MediCal, MediCare, etc. Have private practitioners to not be the elitists and charge exorbitant amount of fee for low SES and BIPOC clients, and accept some sliding scales and private insurance clients. Also, fund BIPOC therapists to become EMDR practitioners.*** Madoka Urhausen, MA, LMFT, ATR-BC (Student Member)

“Like therapy in general, funding and access to BIPOC clients is limited. My hope is that EMDRIA can provide financial support to clinicians to access the training and clinical support post-training.” *** Leticia Vaca Williams, LCSW, Mexican/Black Clinician

So few therapists are EMDR certified to begin with posing a problem in general. For more BIPOC clients to gain access to EMDR, more therapists need to get certified. It is one of the pricier therapy modalities to become certified in, despite the global need. Not to mention, there are several therapists that want to remain surface level in treatment so avoid dealing with trauma altogether. In addition, there are many therapists that do not understand EMDR’s power in the healing process. Also, BIPOC clients need to be proactive by asking for the service or a referral for EMDR.*** Renee B. Wilson, MA, LCMHC, NCC, LCAS, RYT (Associate Member)

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Do you have any favorite free resources regarding BIPOC populations and EMDR therapy?”

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“Unfortunately no. Perhaps I need to do more research. I think a mandated training for EMDR certified therapists should be (I know this is asking alot but its my opinion) is: Implementing a Justice, Antiracist, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JAEDI) Approach in Clinical and EMDR Practice” *** Alicia Beltran, LCPC, LPC, EMDR Certified, Consultant-in-Training

“Unfortunately, I do not have free resources other than the internet, YouTube and some social media accounts that talk about EMDR. I do not find many BIPOC therapists in those forums but I will have clients research to learn more and gather more information.” *** Evelin Lemus, MFT, EMDR Certified Therapist

Resources regarding BIPOC populations should be from BIPOC authors, however, BIPOC people are already doing so much work, that they should be paid for their resources.  This is an area of need that should be developed, especially in regards to Native American populations, as we are often left out of the conversations.” *** Kiana Maillet, LCSW

“Here are some free resources: *** Jordanna L. Saunders, MC, LPC, NCC, CEAP, Certified EMDR Therapist & Consultant in Training

  • From the Trauma Recovery Services of Arizona blog:
  • From the ACA:
  • Resources/Organizations for Indigenous People

“I have two book recommendations:*** Djuan Short, LCSW, CTCP, EMDR Certified Therapist

  • Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome: American’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing by Joy Degruy
  • Black Pain. It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting by Terrie M. Williams” 

“I think that podcasts are a great way to educate ourselves about BIPOC populations. There is a plethora of information to expand knowledge and awareness. For example, the Resilience and Resistance podcast I host is about successful Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color who are overcoming trauma and becoming resilient. The vision for this podcast is to illuminate the dichotomy that many BIPOC female-identified individuals face in their daily lives; holding space for healing or managing past and present trauma, while maintaining a ‘professional’ identity as they strive toward their work and other goals.” *** Marisol Solarte-Erlacher, LPC

“I appreciate the creative approach borrowed from Gestalt and Expressive Arts (my modalities) and also greatly benefited from the training by Esly Carvalho, Ph.D., to address ego states and what appears to be IFS as well since family dynamics are large factors to be addressed in the history of BIPOC folks in immediate families and intergenerational dynamics.” *** Madoka Urhausen, MA, LMFT, ATR-BC (Student Member)

Yes, absolutely. I send these videos to all of my clients to make an informed decision regarding EMDR as a modality.*** Renee B. Wilson, MA, LCMHC, NCC, LCAS, RYT (Associate Member)

For EMDRIA Members:

EMDRIA recommends these free resources shared within the EMDR and Diversity, Community and Culture Online Community library:

  • EMDR Phase 1: Client History – Identity, Race, and Culture Interview
  • NC/PC Cognitions List Inclusive of Identity/Race/Culture

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Resources:

American Counseling Association. BIPOC Mental Health Month. https://www.counseling.org/knowledge-center/mental-health-resources/bipoc-mental-health-month

Archer, D. (2020, Fall). Racial trauma, neurons, and EMDR: The path towards antiracist psychotherapy. Go With That Magazine. Open access: www.emdria.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/GWT.2020.Vol_.25.Issue_.3.RacialTrauma.ALL_.pdf

Archer, D. (2021). Anti-Racist Psychotherapy: Confronting Systemic Racism and Healing Racial Trauma. Montreal, QC: Each One Teach One Publications.

Ashley, W., & Lipscomb, A. (2020, Fall). Addressing racialized trauma utilizing EMDR and antiracist psychotherapy practices. Go With That Magazine. Open access: www.emdria.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/GWT.2020.Vol_.25.Issue_.3.RacialTrauma.ALL_.pdf

Clearly Clinical. (2022). Lifting Black Voices: Therapy, Trust, and Racial Trauma (Ep. 95). Podcast featuring La Shanda Sugg, LPC, Dr. Tiffany Crayton, LPC-S, and LJ Lumpkin, LMFT. https://courses.clearlyclinical.com/courses/free-ceu-racial-trauma-therapy 

EMDRIA. Antiracism Resources. www.emdria.org/publications-resources/practice-resources/antiracism-resources/

EMDRIA. Black History, Racial Trauma, and EMDR. Focal Point Blog. https://www.emdria.org/public-resources/black-history-month/ 

EMDRIA. Diversity and Cultural Competence Association Policy.

EMDRIA. EMDR and Diversity, Community, and Culture Online Community.

EMDRIA. EMDR therapy and parents with Mercedes Samudio, LCSW. Let’s Talk EMDR Podcast Episode 3. https://www.emdria.org/letstalkemdrpodcast/

EMDRIA. EMDR therapy, PTSD and treating black men and adolescents with Dr. Allen Lipscomb. Let’s Talk EMDR Podcast Episode 2. https://www.emdria.org/letstalkemdrpodcast/

Hernandez, C. (2020, Fall). SPACEHOGS make a difference. Go With That Magazine. Open access:www.emdria.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/GWT.2020.Vol_.25.Issue_.3.RacialTrauma.ALL_.pdf

Levis, R. V. (2017). Placing Culture at the Heart of EMDR Therapy. In Nickerson, M. I. (Ed.), Cultural Competence and Healing Culturally-Based Trauma with EMDR Therapy: Innovative Strategies and Protocols (pp. 97-112). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Co.

Levis, R. V., & Siniego, L. B. (2017). An Integrative Framework for EMDR Therapy as an Anti-Oppression Endeavor. In Nickerson, M. I. (Ed.), Cultural Competence and Healing Culturally Based Trauma with EMDR Therapy: Innovative Strategies and Protocols (pp. 79-96). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Co.

Mental Health Alliance. Black and African American Communities and Mental Health. www.mhanational.org/issues/black-and-african-american-communities-and-mental-health

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Your Journey: Black/African American. www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/Black-African-American

Nickerson, M. I. (2017). Cultural Competence and Healing Culturally Based Trauma with EMDR Therapy: Innovative Strategies and Protocols. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Co.

Smith, L., Proctor, G., & Akondo, D. (2021). Confronting racism in counselling and therapy training – Three experiences of a seminar on racism and whiteness. Psychotherapy and Politics International, 19(2), e1579. Open access: https://doi.org/10.1002/ppi.1579

The Library of Congress. (n.d.). Black History Month. https://blackhistorymonth.gov/

Urdaneta, V. (2020, Fall). Engage in the conversation of race and racism with “Hot chocolate and cheese:” An idea you can implement. Go With That Magazine. Open access: www.emdria.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/GWT.2020.Vol_.25.Issue_.3.RacialTrauma.ALL_.pdf

Washington, J. T. (2020). Examining the historical and present-age impact of racism in the United States of American through the arts, aesthetic education, and transformative learning theory: Empowering social work students to effectively discuss racism and provide best practices with African Americans and other people of color (Publication No. 139) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Work]. https://repository.upenn.edu/edissertations_sp2/139/

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EMDRIA Race, Culture, and Ethnicity OnDemand Education Opportunities:

Archer, D. (2020). Racial Trauma, Neurons, and EMDR: The Path Towards an Anti-Racist Psychotherapy. [EMDRIA Conference session]. EMDRIA OnDemand. www.emdria.org/course/racial-trauma-neurons-and-emdr-the-path-towards-an-anti-racist-psychotherapy/

Archer, D., Ashley, W., Chaffers, Q., & Hernandez, R. (2020). The Elephant in the Room: Systemic Racism and Psychotherapy. [EMDRIA Conference session, panel discussion]. EMDRIA OnDemand. www.emdria.org/course/the-elephant-in-the-room-systemic-racism-and-psychotherapy/

Ashley, W., & Lipscomb, A. (2020). EMDR Therapy with an Afrocentric Critical Race Perspective. [EMDRIA Conference session]. EMDRIA OnDemand. www.emdria.org/course/emdr-therapy-with-an-afrocentric-critical-race-perspective/

Chaffers, Q., & Brown, K. (2020). Healing the Healer: EMDR-IGTP-OTS & Vicarious Trauma in Black Clinicians. [EMDRIA Conference session]. EMDRIA OnDemand. www.emdria.org/course/healing-the-healer-emdr-igtp-ots-vicarious-trauma-in-black-clinicians/

Hernandez, R. (2020). EMDR Diversity & The Spectrum of Trauma Prevention. [EMDRIA Conference session]. EMDRIA OnDemand. www.emdria.org/course/emdr-diversity-the-spectrum-of-trauma-prevention/

Nickerson, M. (2020). Social Trauma and Adversity: Restoring Connectedness and Resilience. EMDRIA OnDemand. www.emdria.org/course/social-trauma-and-adversity-restoring-connectedness-and-resilience/

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