A Community of Heart Profile: Barbara Korzun
Those of us on the East Coast of the United States have created a family of facilitators over the many years we have been working together. Because of the small number of our group in the beginning, we have had the delight and the privilege of really getting to know each other with all of our foibles, idiosyncracies and unquenchable thirsts for what is new and unusual. As a whole, we East Coasters are truly a group of mavericks and –often- thrill seekers! Into this group came our friend and much-loved colleague, Barbara Korzun. You could even say that Barb epitomizes all of us with her indomitable spirit and appetite for adventure; she just is the youngest member of our group and has much more energy!
Although, over the years, Barbara has become a true member of a greater world community, her roots are in New Jersey and –along with Sheila Bender and Victoria Britt- she is one of the EMDR Institute’s sponsor for that area. Barbara did her undergraduate work in Psychology with a minor concentration in Music and graduated with honors from Rutgers College in New Brunswick. In 1984, soon after that, she went off to the University of Denver and received her Doctorate of Psychology from the School of Professional Psychology. It is here that she began the work that has become her passion: emergency response and crisis intervention. She began with the Denver Police Response as part of her graduate school training. Here, she did on scene crisis intervention and death notification. Barb said, “I got there before the coroner did” and she quickly had to learn to deal with whatever came her way with distraught family and friends of the person who had died.
Barbara’s understanding of trauma has its personal side, too. During her undergraduate work at Rutgers, a drunk driver killed her brother. Faced with the sudden death of her brother and the response to this tragic event by her family, friends and her self, Barbara had a rapid, first-hand experience of the profound impact of trauma in every aspect of one’s life. We are lucky that she has chosen to use this knowledge in a way to assist others through her humanitarian efforts.
After Barb finished her doctoral studies, she moved from Denver to Lawrenceville, New Jersey and began her Post Doctoral training in neuropsychology and rehabilitation. It was at this time, in September 1991 that she took the first part of the EMDR Institute training and later completed the second half of the course in the fall of 1992. She was noticed because of her expert handling of a difficult abreaction in her group and later became a facilitator with the EMDR Institute in 1994.
As with many of us, Barbara got involved with the EMDR Institute’s Humanitarian Assistance Program (EMDR-HAP) in Oklahoma City after the terrible bombing that took place there in the Federal building. Barbara was horrified by what happened and transferred her feelings into action by helping to find creative solutions to transport facilitators to the area and provide them with food and shelter. She was a natural!
By 1996, her interest in EMDR-HAP was sealed and she became a member of the Board of Directors and the Emergency Coordinator and a fund-raiser. In Barb’s words, “Nobody else wanted to do it!” The Emergency Coordinator was in charge of trying to help when a request for services following a natural or man-made disaster occurred. One of the first responses Barb took charge of was to respond to the Montoursville community after the plane crash that killed 18 members of the local High School French Club.
In September 1998, Barbara became Programs Director for EMDR-HAP in a part-time position. In August 1999, the Board of Directors approved Barb as its full-time Executive Director with a professional office in New Hope, PA. As Executive Director, Barb supervises a staff of two: newly hired Administrative Assistant, Julie Velioglu, who works in the New Hope office, and Administrative Director, MaryAnn Gutoff, who has been in the west coast office in El Granada, CA since 1995.
Barbara was encouraged that an anonymous donor designated a grant of $50,000 to EMDR-HAP to develop the infrastructure for the Board of Directors and office set-up. She is excited “to be involved with moving EMDR-HAP from a well-meaning grass-roots level group of well-meaning people to a full- fledged international humanitarian assistance organization.” In addition to continuing to develop an administrative board, EMDR-HAP has begun to develop on-going funding and relationships with other humanitarian organizations like the Trans-Cultural Psycho-social Organization headquartered in Amsterdam.
As Barbara so passionately puts it: “ We are seeing what a powerful, transformative methodology EMDR is for the healing of emotional trauma. We can provide that and train people. Instead of handing people fish, we can teach them how to fish and give them access to what they never would have been able to do before.”
EMDR-HAP has been involved with many widely publicized ventures over the years of its existence in Ireland, Sarajevo, Zagreb, Ruanda, Oklahoma City, Florida, Israel, Bangladesh, Armenia and Poland just for starters! However, out of the limelight, Barbara has focused much of her attention on domestic programs in community mental health in the inner city to provide trainings for mental health workers in the frontlines of dealing with severely traumatized populations. EMDR-HAP is making a difference everywhere.
Outside her EMDR avocation, Barbara has a range of interests. We all know of her passion for music and if you wonder where she is after a long day’s training it will often be listening to Blues or Jazz or anything new and exciting that she has heard about. She can always be found at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival or at the performances of The Saw Doctors, an Irish band for whom she does promotion in the United States. Barbara is interested in healing of all kinds, especially indigenous healing methods and spirituality. If you want to know the latest herbal remedy on the market, ask her!
We are indeed lucky to have Barbara Korzun as part of our EMDR Community. Thank you Barb on behalf of us all.