Therapy Used for Military Veterans Finds Success Among Traumatized Immigrants
EMDR for the Undocumented (Univision Noticias Digital)
After nearly 22 years of living in the United States without papers, working some 12 hours a day and feeling like he was nothing more than a pair of hands, in 2014 Abad began to doubt his life.
He’d just separated from his first wife, which made it harder to see his son. He was having trouble sleeping and eating, instead seeking refuge in alcohol. And the stress of being undocumented began to feel overwhelming.
One night, he began to search Google for ways to commit suicide.
“I sent a message to a psychologist friend saying, 'I am desperate. I feel I won't live past this weekend,'” said Abad, 40, a tall man with dark skin, grey hair and an almost permanent smile, who requested Univision use only his first name.
That night, his friend drove 500 miles from San Diego to Abad’s home in Oakland. He introduced Abad to a unique therapy, called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, which involves eye movements guided by a scanner or a light to lower the intensity of emotions and memories. Hesitant and nearly hopeless, Abad tried it.
After just two sessions of EMDR, Abad began to transform his desperation, and started on the road to recovery.
Once used almost solely to treat post traumatic stress in war veterans, EMDR has slowly become an effective therapy to treat a range of traumas, including those experienced by immigrants. Now, more therapists in California are seeking training in EMDR to help patients process memories and heal, including in their native Spanish.
Today, Abad says he’s completely transformed from the days when suicidal thoughts weighed on him. He’s now remarried and seeks to help the undocumented community.
“Trauma is an opportunity to get healthy and come out even better than before, stronger, more self-confident,” Abad said.
Read the rest at New America Media | Español
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