(for those new to this blog, Brigitte is my wife)
Visiting mental-health volunteers open local eyes about revolutionary treatment for post-traumatic stress
By Iman Azzi
Daily Star staff
The method is called Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), and was discovered in 1987 by Dr. Francine Shapiro. Shapiro noticed that thinking about a disturbing moment prompted her eyes to move more spontaneously. After numerous studies, EMDR has been proved effective for the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder.
"The nice thing about this method is that it is client-centered. The client goes where they need to go ... It allows a person to tap into their healing capacity because sometimes it get stuck," said Peggy Moore, a trainer from the EMDR Institute's Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP). "It seems to work cross-culturally; we've had to make some tweaks of course."
HAP was established after the deadly 1995 bombing of US government building in Oklahoma City, when several EMDR-trained psychiatrists volunteered to help the victims and it became evident that EMDR trainers needed their own NGO base.
HAP volunteers make up a global network of clinicians who travel anywhere there is a need to stop suffering and prevent the after-effects of trauma and violence. With several branches around the world, HAP professionals have treated people in the aftermath of a major earthquake in
"I've been trying to get this to happen for a long time. This is a dream come true," said Moore, who from her home in
"I was so angry with my government,"
Hoping to be able to help in some small way, she contacted
"No one could even think of treatment. We were still in emergency mode," Khoury said. "This [workshop] came at a very good time. Last minute, it all fell into place."
Guillard said that during the war, HAP-France raised funds to help civilians on both sides of the border during last summer's war with
"A portion of the money went to
The first day of the three-day workshop introduced EMDR to the LPA members, while also setting the stage for a deeper involvement of the process in the coming days.
"Today we were installing a safe place. The process can be very destabilizing so you need to make sure they have a safe place to return to," Guillard said.
The final two days will see the participants learning how to use EMDR as well as experiencing the therapy firsthand.
"There is such a thirst for learning new skills here. Most times we have to travel outside," said Khoury, who studied at
Like the other Lebanese participants, Khoury is new to EMDR but expressed great hope in the application of the method.
In terms of emergency mental care in
"EMDR has been proven to be effective," said