AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department’s Victim Services Unit has $50,000 to spend on training for Austin-area counselors who can assist survivors of trauma.

Both nonprofit and private sector counselors are eligible to participate. The goal of this project is to train selected counselors on what’s known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in exchange for pro bono counseling for survivors of trauma as referred by APD. 

“In the beginning of this year, we were concerned that we might not get funding,” said Roxana Ortega-Hart, APD Victim Services Supervisor. “We had told people that unfortunately we were not going to be refunded, but we found out this year that we will actually get funding.”

Ortega-Hart said the victim services unit actually didn’t see any downfalls from APD budget cuts. In fact, they were able to hire three new support counselors and with $50,000 for this program, they can train new volunteers, too.

“Trauma often resides. It stays in our bodies and particularity in the back of the brain,” said Dr. Christie Sprowls.

Sprowls teaches the EMDR training. She said the EMDR focuses on the disturbing emotions and symptoms that result from a traumatic event and assists the brain’s information processing system so that it can organically move toward natural healing.

Fees for this training normally range from $2,000 to $4,000. Selected participants will receive this training free of charge in exchange for an agreement to partner with APD Victim Services.

The program is expected to provide survivors of trauma with 50 pro bono sessions within the next three years.

EMDR training consists of two weekends of in-person training and a series of consultation sessions after each weekend. Participants will be expected to participate in all of the required consultations.

The deadline to apply is April 11 at 5 p.m.

How to apply

Submit the following items to Incomplete applications will not be considered. When possible, please submit all items together.

  • Letter of interest detailing: 
    • How you meet the requirements
    • Which training(s) you are available to attend
    • Where you will provide the pro bono sessions (address)
    • Contact information
  • Resume 
    • Highlight areas of expertise, languages spoken, and other relevant skills
    • Include your license number
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can speak to your capacity to work with survivors of trauma (include at least one past or present supervisor)
  • NOTE: All applications must include information about where you will provide the pro bono sessions. APD does not have the capacity to provide space.
  • If you are in private practice, please note the location of the office where you will see clients
  • If you work for an agency/non-profit/government/etc., please note the location of the office where you will see clients. If this location is at your place of work, you MUST include a Letter of Agreement & Commitment from the agency stating that you are allowed to use the space, that all waitlists, fees, and session limits will be waived, and any limitations or guidelines that will exist for your use of the space.