THE FIRST psychotrauma clinic in the country plans to set up an Asian education center to chart a new cure for trauma, fears, and depression.

The UST Psychotrauma Clinic seeks to establish an Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy center, the first in the country and in Asia. The clinic has the country’s only four registered EMDR specialists.

The clinic and the UST Graduate School will initiate the long-term project by establishing a link with the International Society of EMDR Specialists founded by the therapy’s pioneer, Francine Shapiro, clinic researcher Imelu Mordelo said. Then the clinic, through the society, will conduct EMDR training for University guidance counselors with master’s degrees and train social workers to be paraprofessional EMDR therapists. The clinic needs around P1 million to hold the training, which EMDR trainers from other countries will facilitate. The funds will come from training fees and sponsorships, EMDR specialist Cherry Reñeses said.

EMDR therapy, which uses eye movement as medium, is a new psychotherapy technique applied to cure people who have experienced traumatic incidents, depression, phobias, anxieties, stress, eating disorders, and poor self-image.

During the eight-phase treatment, the victim recalls the traumatic incident through the stimulation of both eyes, activating the tactile, visual, and the auditory senses, said another EMDR expert Lourdes Medina.

According to Reñeses, another EMDR specialist, traumatic situations or disturbing incidents disrupt the normal process of the mind and get trapped in the brain, which explains recurrent nightmares among crime and tragedy victims about their negative experiences.

EMDR “unlocks” the trauma and helps the mind to properly process the experience, Reñeses said. It also provides a new perspective of the incident.

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“EMDR’s goal is to bring the negative belief system to zero and to increase positive belief system in the process of unlocking,” she said.

According to the therapy specialists, unlike other psychotrauma techniques, a survivor may be free of his or her anxiety in one or two EMDR sessions. The therapy normally costs around P1,500 per hour in counseling centers, but the clinic offers the service free of charge.

The clinic, apart from offering free psychotrauma therapy and counseling in the University, has also helped victims of tragedies such as the landslide in Quezon in 2004 and the Ultra stampede last month. Marlene H. Elmenzo


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