Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapeutic intervention designed to decrease distress associated with traumatic memories. EMDR has been validated and confirmed by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as a primary treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and has been recognized as effective by the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Multiple studies reflect EMDR’s capacity to heal the brain from psychological trauma; thus, clients are able to immediately experience the benefits of psychotherapy that previously took years to obtain. However, despite EMDR’s efficacy, there are minimal references to diversity, culture or context in EMDR research and literature. EMDR protocol has no adaptations or recommendations for utilizing this approach with African American clients, promoting an antiquated one size fits all treatment orientation. Without consideration of the lived experiences of African Americans and context that includes acknowledgement of stigma, shame regarding help seeking and historical trauma, this lens obscures the relevance of identity, privilege, power and inclusion in treatment. Therefore, it is imperative to critically examine how EMDR treatment can be utilized to alleviate PTSD distress within a framework of oppression. The authors utilized an anti-oppressive, Critical Race theoretical perspective to examine four case studies of African American clients who received EMDR intervention to gain insight on the unique nuances that arise during treatment. Emphasis will be placed on critiquing the treatment protocol; the positionality of the clinician and clinical implications for future anti-oppressive practice with African American clients utilizing this model.



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