Perceptions and Use of EMDR Therapy in Rape Crisis Centersedit
Sexual violence is pervasive and generates significant trauma symptoms that can last a lifetime for survivors. Rape crisis centers provide critically important services for survivors of child sexual abuse and adult sexual assault, including individual and group counseling. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has been found to be an effective treatment for a wide array of trauma symptoms in both children and adults. This study sought to determine the extent to which rape crisis centers use EMDR therapy, practitioners’ perceptions of EMDR, and the provider characteristics that might support or hinder implementation of EMDR in this setting. A statewide web-based survey generated responses from 76 counselors working within 47 rape crisis centers. Results indicate that there is a low-use rate of EMDR (8%) in this setting, perceptions of EMDR were predominately marked by uncertainty, reflecting a lack of familiarity, but there is strong interest in receiving training. The desire for training is complicated by the range of education levels of counseling staff in rape crisis centers with only 54% holding advanced degrees. There is an opportunity and need to build capacity for the implementation of EMDR in this vital service sector, but there are also significant challenges that will need to be addressed.