The politics of humanitarian aid

A case study of EMDR in Cambodia

  • Lorien S. Jordan Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources, and Communication Disorders, University of Arkansas, USA
  • Desiree M. Seponski Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Science, University of Georgia, USA
  • Amber Kelley Doctoral Candidate, Department of Human Development and Family Science, University of Georgia, USA
  • Nea Krpo Marriage and Family Therapist, Rock Springs Positive Coaching, Caring, and Counseling, Georgia, USA
Keywords: humanitarian aid, Cambodia, EMDR, global mental health, responsive evaluation


The global expansion of psychotherapy through humanitarian aid is a political act. International aid organizations assert power over resource-scarce countries, make critical decisions about who receives care, who provides care, and what modalities are delivered. Once embedded in a country, programs exert influence between international interests, local governance, and the targeted population. This study adds to the limited information on how the humanitarian aid phenomenon is experienced by the practitioners who must navigate these conflicts through a case study of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in Cambodia. As a non-Western nation with a colonial and autogenocidal history, Cambodia offers a unique perspective for those interested in the concerns and challenges of globalized psychotherapy. As found in this case study, EMDR as humanitarian aid and a mental health movement pushes traumatology while simultaneously necessitating the need for EMDR. Findings suggest that Cambodians working as psychologists become dependent upon and caught between competing aid organizations.


Download data is not yet available.
How to Cite
Jordan, L. S., Seponski, D. M., Kelley, A., & Krpo, N. (2022). The politics of humanitarian aid: A case study of EMDR in Cambodia. Psychotherapy & Politics International, 20(1 & 2).