July 18, 2017

Earlier this month, I traveled to Dar es Salaam to attend an EMDR Training organized by the Muhimbili Department of Psychiarty and facilitated by the European EMDR and Norwegian psychologists. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a psychotherapy treatment that addresses traumas, anxiety, panic attacks, disturbing memories, post-traumatic stress disorders, and other emotional problems. Participants at the training included psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists from Dodoma, Arusha, Tanga (Lushoto), and Dar es Salaam.

EMDR has great results dealing with any negative lasting effects from a previous trauma or stress. It works by releasing the emotional ties to a past experience that may have occurred at an early age, memories of traumatic death of loved ones, feelings of abandonment, etc. The main objective of EMDR is to allow people to face their past with significantly less or no fear, and to change people’s narratives about these past experiences.

This core part of EMDR really made me think. All of the TFFT Scholars come from a very vulnerable environment, some from an orphanage. These are difficult environments both physically and psychologically. All of the scholars have lived through extreme poverty, and many have had traumatic experiences. This history haunts some of them, and although the scholars might not realize the ways this affects them, the consequences are projected through their behavior, life skills, and performance socially and academically.

I found it absolutely astonishing to learn how previous experiences affect our daily lives and the ways that the mind subliminally connects past issues to the present. Eventually these results are portrayed in our present behaviors! One example I found interesting was when an instructor at the training shared how “pathological jealousy” became apparent as a result of his parents’ death at an early age. It was great to learn that not only does EMDR focus on years past, but also on recent situations. EMDR is also a good therapy method for dealing with issues in relationships, fears, and phobias.

Amongst our scholars, there are some who have gone though painful situations at very early ages. TFFT helps to provide them with the necessary counseling, and this EMDR therapy will indeed help them face their past with courage and move ahead with a better outlook. I look forward to helping them achieve positive remembrance.