President’s Message (2016-2020)

President's Message (Vera Handojo, 2020)

Our association has reached its 10th Annual General Meeting (AGM)!

I am extremely grateful to the two Executive Committees with whom I served over the last four years (2016-2020) – Francisca Chiang, Dr Shirley Low, Grace Phoon, Pamela Koh, Sue Anne Nummela, Dr Vanessa von Auer, Janice Liow and Jean Tay – for their hard work and sacrifice of time and energy (because we are all volunteers!) as well as for their different talents to bring into reality the association’s purpose of providing a professional welcoming space for EMDR practitioners in Singapore to learn, grow and share their experiences through our various activities. I am especially appreciative to have had their collective wisdom (as well as Linda Koh and Ip Lee Lee from the Certification Sub-committee) to tap on when we had to make decisions that had important consequences for the association and the community at large.

This 10th AGM celebrates other milestones for the association: We conducted the first Basic Training – Part 1 in Singapore with EMDR Asia trainer, Dr Sushma Mehrotra and our very own trainer-in-training, Dr Matthew Woo! This is one of the many steps we are taking in materialising Dr Francine Shapiro’s vision of growing local EMDR competence and training capacity in each country. We are committed to supporting Asia in this effort, especially now that our dear Founder has passed away. You can look forward to more of these trainings in Singapore.

In the same spirit, we now have 3 local Approved Consultants (Dr Matthew Woo, Linda Koh and myself) to provide consultation not just for the Basic Trainings but also for members working towards becoming an EMDR Certified Practitioner in Singapore. We also have two consultants-in-training, Francisca Chiang and Pamela Koh, in addition to 8 other EMDR Certified Practitioners.

The association is indebted to EMDR Institute Trainer from Australia, Sigmund Burzynski, who gave us (six in total so far) the training foundation, encouragement and guidance to be EMDR Institute Facilitators, which then enabled the three above-mentioned individuals to be recognised as EMDR Singapore Approved Consultants. He has run Basic Training here for more than 10 years, and so we will continue to engage him to do the same for several more years as we are still growing our local training capacity.

Our thanks also go to Dr Roger Solomon who has been running the Master Classes and advanced trainings, also for more than 10 years. His commitment to bringing healing to therapists themselves has been invaluable in building a more wholesome EMDR community in Singapore and elsewhere.

Another trainer to acknowledge is Roy Kiessling. His advanced training on how to appreciate the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model from a neurological core belief perspective and along the Processing Continuum empowered clinicians already trained in the standard 8-phase protocol with additional strategies and a more wholistic framework to effectively navigate through stuck points with their clients.

Another important milestone was combining our usual peer learning session with an Association Dinner, and an Auction to raise funds specifically for Emergency Relief for a then-yet-realised HAP-Asia in November 2017. We finally donated the funds to HAP-Asia at the 4th EMDR Asia Conference in January 2020. We are grateful to all the case presenters at our peer learning sessions over the last 4 years – Janice Liow, Alvin Cheong, Dr Robin Goh, Linda Koh, and yours truly. The sharing of local clinical experience in the use of EMDR has been vital in the establishing the efficacy of EMDR therapy in Singapore and developing our professional practice.

We also congratulate our members who presented at one of the past three EMDR Asia Conferences in 2014 (Manila), 2017 (Shanghai) and 2020 (Bangkok) – Dr Matthew Woo, Janice Liow, Alvin Cheong, Dr Shirley Low, and Bryan Shen. They are our inspiration and encouragement for more Singaporean clinicians to embark on publication and research.

Yet another milestone by this Ex-co was conducting introductory talks for mental health practitioners on what EMDR is, its effectiveness and the trainings available in Singapore. I was glad to partner fellow Ex-co member, Pamela Koh, to make these talks a reality. We are also in the process of revamping our website and processes to meet the increasing responsibilities of the association (Thank you, Shirley!).

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 crisis, we have had to cancel our trainings scheduled for the first half of this year (e.g. those by Andrew Seubert) to help reduce risk of exposure and transmission. Nevertheless, I am proud of what the Ex-co members and the association have achieved over the last four years. We have endeavoured to maintain a good balance between upholding standards and welcoming multiple points of view. Even when we as an association need to be gatekeepers of professional practice, we continue to build bridges where we can – e.g. while the association cannot recognise all formats of Basic Training as an approved training, we welcome graduates of these trainings to share in our learning journey.

Working together to build community and healthy relationships is key in healing mental illness in our society. Thank you to every member and clinician who supported us – you make the community! I have every confidence that the next Ex-co will continue to build an even stronger EMDR presence in Singapore. Let us continue growing together as a community.

I wish you all strength and good health!

Vera Handojo
EMDR President