What is EMDR HAP?

The EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Project [EMDR HAP] came into existence in 1995 in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing of the Federal Building. 167 people were killed, including many infants and toddlers in a day care center there. Dozens of EMDR trained clinicians volunteered one or two weeks of their time to go the Oklahoma City to treat first responders, victims, and relatives of those who died. An integral part of HAP’s work there was to train local clinicians in EMDR to continue this work in the years that followed.

This massive, humanitarian project evolved into an effort to create a global network of healing. And the EMDR HAP in the US has now been joined by Humanitarian Assistance Programs in nearly every other country that has an EMDR professional association. Wherever there is healing, there is hope and a break in the cycle of violence. And for every person treated for his/her/their suffering, there are others around them who are spared violence and suffering

The experience in Oklahoma City became the model EMDR HAP has followed ever since, with ever increasing sophistication and skill. More than 1,000 EMDR Certified therapists have volunteered their time (and often paid their own travel expenses) to help heal the suffering in places as far flung as the battlefields of the Balkans, religious conflict in Northern Ireland, war survivors in Rwanda and Kenya, post-earthquake Turkey, post-flood Mexico, and in Colombia, El Salvador, Palestine, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, the Ukraine and Uganda. EMDR HAP has had past or ongoing programs in some 70 countries worldwide. And every clinician trained through these programs becomes an ambassador for healing in their own communities.

And at home, EMDR HAP volunteers worked in a highly coordinated fashion with the American Red Cross and other city agencies for two years in both New York City after 9/11, and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Again, EMDR HAP worked with First Responders, victims and their families and provided multiple on-going trainings for area clinicians who agreed to provide ongoing free or low-cost EMDR therapy for survivors. EMDR HAP has coordinated smaller responses to many other natural disasters.

A more recent major effort by EMDR HAP has been to bring low-cost EMDR training to clinicians working in community mental health agencies and other non-profits. Such agencies usually serve the poor and other underserved populations. And the incomes of agency employees are typically much lower than that of therapists in private practice. The agencies are most often found in inner cities, rural areas that are medically underserved, and Native American reservations.

As the number of soldiers and National Guards personnel with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has skyrocketed, from service in Iraq and Afghanistan, EMDR HAP has also attempted to fill an important gap by providing low cost or free training for professional staff on military bases, and at Veteran Administration hospitals. For example, a Part 1 (of 2) training took place in the fall of 2010 at the VA Hospital in Leeds, MA.

EMDR HAP is a non-profit organization 501(c)(3) funded by private donations. For further information, please go to their website, www.emdrhap.org.

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