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  • Writer's pictureHannah Hamilton

A Commitment to Culturally-Attuned EMDR

I learned and began practicing EMDR Therapy in a society where I was raised to be a racist and regularly participated in a white supremacist system. I remember from a young age buying into color blindness as a preferred belief system and even after college, I was called out for standing by while my friend was being harmed by racism. In graduate school our culture competence course started to open me up to the systemic harm of our system and yet I still did not understand the harm I was causing clients in session. Throughout my life, I regularly caused harm both to people dear to me and strangers. In fact, I know that I continue to do so despite actively working on being anti-racist.

And I know that I can actively work every day in my own life and in the consultation and training I provide to be culturally-attuned and humble in my journey. My work in cultural humility is multifaceted. I have completed trainings on decolonizing therapy, applying a justice, equity, and inclusion framework to therapy, and cultural broaching. I am part of a decolonizing therapy forum as a way to continue to learn and hold myself accountable. I work to engage with people from diverse backgrounds regularly. And finally, I spend time reflecting and owning my own biases and taking accountability for harm when I cause it.

In no way do I believe that I will ever achieve my goal to be culturally-attuned with all my consultation. And I know that I want to continue to do the work for the clients I serve and the clients that my consultees serve. I work to create an environment for all those who receive consultation or training from me to feel comfortable calling me out on my harmful behaviors or statements. EMDR Therapy itself does not escape the same accountability. I hope to continue to call out ways EMDR can cause harm and acknowledge its roots in colonization. The therapeutic environment is also rooted in colonialism and power dynamics. In my consultation, I strive to ask about the intersection of client identities and the impact of the therapist’s identity in the therapy room. I also commit to identifying how a person’s culture and background are strengths in their lives and their trauma resilience. Finally, I believe that long-term healing doesn’t happen in therapy but an individual’s reconnection with a community. I aim to encourage therapists and clients to look outside of the therapeutic space to build that supportive community. EMDR is only a piece of the larger healing picture.



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