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, 2023, 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 Veterans Affairs 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.”
Last year’s goal for the program was to train at least six students to provide low-cost EMDR to the Abilene community. The Department of Marriage and Family Studies broke this goal as nine students were trained and provided 46 hours of free EMDR therapy and at least 20 more hours of EMDR therapy on a sliding scale for their clients. Of the nine students, four will be staying in the Abilene area and provide low-cost EMDR for the next two years. This year, 12 students have been trained, and three will stay in Abilene after graduation.
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.
“This therapy program is one the Community Foundation of Abilene is proud to support again this year,” said Michelle Parrish, grants director for the Community Foundation of Abilene. “Students are receiving valuable training while families and children can receive the services they need right here in 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 ACU’s Marriage and Family Institute at 325-674-3724.
Learn more about ACU’s Department of Marriage and Family Studies.
— Connor Mullins
March 1, 2023