A Community of Heart Profile: Hanne Hummel & Raimund Doerr
How is it that people choose to do the work that they do?
Hanne Hummel and Raimund Doerr are life and work partners who chose their current mutual path because of the experiences of their youth.
Hanne and Raimund met in 1975 as a result of their interest in social issues. They were young, gifted, directed and sure that they wanted to make a difference in their world. They attended the Universities of Mainz and Frankfurt/Main in Germany and both studied Psychology, Sociology and the Educational Sciences. In 1982, they received their Diplomas (Dipl.Pad.).
Armed with their knowledge from the university and books about education and sciences, they decided to work in a foster home together to change the life of children. They had heard about the appalling circumstances under which these children survived and were horrified into action. The children lived as if they were in prison, unable to leave the home. They wondered how children who have no parents and such profound problems could get better in such an environment.
In 1982, in the town of Cille, 80 kilometers from Hanover, Germany, they began their foster care work in association with others in 14 group homes. Their population included children who were living on the street, child prostitutes, children involved with child pornography and children who had suffered abuse; these were the children who were among the most difficult to educate. At the time, Hanne and Raimund’s belief was that “If you love children, they will love you” and they were eager to try this new approach.
Instead, Hanne, Raimund, a long with two other colleagues with whom they worked, had a very intense, personal and profound experience of the effects of trauma on children. The children tested their caretakers constantly and Hanne and Raimund’s 40-hour workweek often extended into 60-70 hours as the children surprised them and their theories! Although they had learned from Psychoanalysis that incest is not real and just a fantasy, this learning was not congruent with what they were learning from their young charges. There ideas were proven totally insufficient to address the needs of their children.
As a result of this baptism by fire, Hanne and Raimund decided that they had reached the boundary of their communal learning and that social therapy in the form of Milieu Therapy was not sufficient.
In 1985, they both began training in Client-centered Psychotherapy. Raimund, beginning in 1985 and working through 1996, worked as a Psychotherapist and Counselor at a psychological and psychotherapeutic Counseling Service in Singen, Germany (Pro Familia) and later in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. In these settings, he worked with persons suffering from PTSD and problems that were the result of trauma. He worked with couples when there were difficulties in their relationship after the woman had been raped or if she had been abused as a child. Often, the women felt safer working on these issues in the couple rather than individually with a man. Raimund notes that he works with men now, although earlier in his career, men had difficulty addressing these issues of trauma in childhood.
During the same period of time, Hanne was working with groups of traumatized women and women who were refugees. She was involved with the Rape Hotline and, at the Counseling Services she worked with many girls, boys and women who were survivors of incest and violence of any kind.
Hanne was gifted in this area and found that her talent allowed her to work well with these populations as she was able to help her clients work through the problems that they had. In 1987, she began to give workshops to other therapists and social workers on psychotraumatology, psychotraumatherapy and, especially, on how to stabilize traumatized survivors before processing traumatic material. Also, she became a supervisor for this work.
In the same year, she became a Psychotherapist and Counselor at a psychological and psychotherapeutical Counseling Service in Schaffhausen, Switzerland working psychotherapeutically with girls and women suffering from PTSD and the effects of violence.
In 1994, Hanne and Raimund entered a new joint venture. They founded the “Psychotherapeutisches Institut im Park” (Psychotherapeutic Institute in the Park) in Schaffhausen. Through their Institute, Hanne and Raimund are dedicated to providing psychotherapy to traumatized individuals, supervision, and education for psychotherapists. The also provide continuing education for people working with traumatized populations such as lawyers and police who want to learn how to interview and treat trauma survivors. As the Institute grew, first Hanne and then Raimund were able to leave the Counseling Service and work full time at the Institute. Now they offer many programs in the area of trauma. Over the years, as their reputations have grown, they have been doing less therapy and much more supervision and education as the demand for understanding trauma has grown in German-speaking Europe.
In 1996, at the Congress of the Swiss Association of Psychotherapists, Hanne was the first of the two to hear about EMDR. At first, she thought EMDR sounded very strange indeed and could not believe a method could work so quickly. She decided to take the course to see if it had any merit as she felt she had a responsibility to be current with new methods in the traumatology field. She went to Cologne to take the first part of the EMDR training and completed her training in 1997. During the training, she was so delighted with the results of her practicum that she decided that she wanted to bring EMDR to Switzerland. Raimund took the training the next year and then both became Supervisors through a course at Arne Hofmann’s EMDR Institute-Germany.
They are proud of a new ten weekend didactic program on trauma that includes trauma education - theoretical and clinical material- and EMDR training. Requirements include 3 case history presentations and 40 hours of Supervision and Colloquium. After candidates complete these requirements, they are placed on a referral list that serves (so far) Austria, England, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Switzerland. Currently, members of the referral group include European facilitators. This referral source can be accessed through the following website: www.psychotraumatherapia.info
Raimund has actively continued his interest in politics. From March, 1996 – November 2001, he was a member of the Board of Directors for the Swiss Association of Client-Centered Psychotherapy (SGGT). He was on the Board of Directors for the Network of the European Associations for Person- Centered Counseling and Psychotherapy (NEAPCCP) from September 1998 through November 2000. Currently, since March 1999, he is a member of the Board of the Swiss Association of Psychotherapists (SPV).
As dedicated as Hanne and Raimund are to their work, they are equally dedicated to play. They rejuvenate from their intense lives on a regular basis by hiking and swimming. One of their favorite places to go in the summer is Sweden, where they leave civilization behind and go off into the woods to walk or kayak. They also love to swim in the Rhine and go to the mountains in the winter. Raimund and Hanne are aficionados of food and they love to eat good food and drink red wine, especially when they can sit in the sun.
I asked Hanne and Raimund about their views on life, liberty and EMDR and they replied in a joint statement that symbolizes their mutual beliefs and principles:
“We all have only one life. But it has many consequences when you think about it to the end. We all are parts of all the living that is on earth. So, we have responsibility for all the living of which we are a part.
Since our youth we both were engaged in social issues, and we also understand a part of our work today continues to be in this tradition. We are making a modest contribution to the movement against violence, torture and abuse.
We believe that as therapists, we have to contribute to help create a world with less violence. We have to fight against circumstances that cause violence and traumatization because war, strong social differences, hunger and living without liberty continue to exist. We need to fight because we know the consequences of these situations.
EMDR is a means to reduce the consequences/results of traumatization, and, so, a powerful resource to reduce suffering. We are glad and grateful that we could learn this method and we can contribute to the spreading of EMDR. We know many colleagues who, just as we, discovered that EMDR improved their work and their possibilities to help others. EMDR can be a great tool to help people to find their inner freedom.
In this context, it seems very important to us to note that we are grateful to Arne Hofmann for bringing EMDR to Germany so e could help to bring it to Switzerland.”
This dedicated, gifted couple are part of our large, EMDR, international family of psychotherapists. Individually and together, they provide needed services in the area of traumatology from psychotherapy to education to social change. How fortunate we are to have this.