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ACU Marriage and Family Institute offers free EMDR treatment

The Marriage and Family Institute at Abilene Christian University is providing five sessions of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy at no cost from now through June 30, 2022, thanks in part to a grant from the Community Foundation of Abilene.

EMDR therapy is a psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression and panic disorders. It’s one of only a handful of treatments approved by the VA for treatment of trauma. 

This specialized treatment using bilateral stimulation of the brain to help process traumatic memories often costs $100-150 an hour, and providers typically have a waiting list. ACU’s MFI is offering five free sessions per person from now through June 30. 

“It is important to us that Abilenians have access to low-cost trauma care,” said Dr. Lisa Merchant, chair and program director in the Department of Marriage and Family Studies. “Being able to provide EMDR to the community at no or low cost without a waiting list is pretty spectacular.”

A grant from the Community Foundation of Abilene’s APC Endowment provided training and scholarships for six graduate students who will conduct the therapy. The APC Endowment grant is awarded to area nonprofit organizations that are increasing access to mental health treatment for underserved populations.

In addition to the free therapy offered for a limited time, these six students have agreed to stay in Abilene after graduation and charge no more than $50 per hour for EMDR services for two years.  

“The Community Foundation is proud to support a program that not only trains new practitioners but also allows them to invest their skills back into our community. It provides an ongoing benefit, years into the future,” said Michelle Parrish, grants director for Community Foundation of Abilene.

Although the grant covers this year’s training and scholarships, sponsorship opportunities are available to help with future student training and scholarships related to EMDR. To get involved as a sponsor or to access the free EMDR treatment, call the MFI at 325-674-3724.

Learn more about ACU’s Department of Marriage and Family Studies.

— Wendy Kilmer

Mar. 15, 2022

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