A Community of Heart: Susana Gabriela Uribe Ramirez
Susana’s love of her family, her community and her country are the guiding principles that inspire the choices in her life. She is the sixth child of seven born to Tarsicio Uribe and Susana Ramirez in Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco and in the country of Mexico. Her father was an attorney who was passionate in his love for the country. Through his government position, he flew all over the state helping the Mexican people with their agricultural needs. During this time he took his young daughter with him to learn about the power of helping build community, instead of giving charity. Her mother was a homemaker to the seven children (five boys and two girls). Even though they were not wealthy and sometimes it was difficult, she worked hard showing her children the importance of a loving family that included discipline, loyalty, strong values and the respect for her elders. She also grew up in a family of boys – her “man-team.” They had fun all of the time and they helped to make her “brave.”
During high school, her family moved to Mexico City where she continued her studies. She wanted to be a doctor and belonged to the first aid team, where she was one of the first on-site if someone got hurt. In 1979, her family had their own tragedy. Her 3rd eldest brother died in an accident. As she was aware of the effects of injury from her first aid work, she became alert to the reactions of her family following his death. It was here that she realized that traumatic grief takes a terrible toll and she began her quest to figure out what to do and how to help.
This original trauma was compounded in 1982 when her parents died in an accident. At the time, Susana was 20 and her younger sister was 15. Instead of continuing in pre-med, she took a graphic design program so that she could be at home more and be of assistance.
Her brothers were also living at home, and as a group, they cared for each other. During these very hard years each of her siblings tried to cope with these tragic losses. They went on with their lives, but she began to see that something was wrong. Their mother had left a legacy of self-reliance, independence and a great deal of internal resources. They did what they could on their own.
While in college, she met and fell in love with Eduardo Fabre. In 1983, they were married and in 1985 she graduated with a BA in Graphic Design. She took time off to raise her two daughters, Maria Susana (born in 1986) and Renata (born in 1988). While her children were little, Eduardo and Susana decided to move to Cuernavaca where the climate was not polluted.
When her children went to school in 1994, she decided she would study human development and attended the Centro de Desarrollo Humano Jusan XXXIII connected with a Jesuit University, Universidad Iberoamericana. She received a diploma in 1999. She began to work for a project in a big company. It was the Pepsi Project and its mission was to help people to deal with family matters. For four years, Susana went to the big factories all over the state and Mexico City, teaching families about self-esteem and communication.
At the same time she took a Thanatology Diploma, to assist her in her practice, while working in the regional hospital, Hospital General Jose G. Parres, in the Intensive Care Unit and in the ER. During that time, she was still looking for meaning and felt that something was missing, so she enrolled in a Logotherapy and Existential Analysis (in groups) Program with the Institute of Logotherapy. She would talk to her professors about this, and found that a strong, spiritual life helped but did not give her the meaning that she was looking for.
Still in search of answers, she enrolled in the Thanatology MA Program at the Universidad La Laguna in Tenerife, Spain. It was a great experience. She continued her work with people in the terminal stages of life and could see that not only were the patients traumatized, but often the nurses and doctors as well. She worked hard with the tools she had from logotherapy and mourning and grief studies but realized that something was still missing.
It was around that time that she heard about Ignacio (Nacho) Jarero and his team and took a course on Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) with him. She used the skills that she had learned in the hospital, but, something was still missing. In 2006, the Pasta de Conchos mine disaster occurred, near Nueva Rosita, and 65 miners died. As members of the Mexican affiliate of La Sociedad Española e Internacional de Tanatología (SEIT) from Spain, Susana and her partner went there to work with the relatives of the miners. She realized that they were suffering from PTSD and she did not have the skills to help. By then, she had lost contact with Nacho but found him there working with EMDR. It was at that moment that she realized what was missing.
She signed up for the EMDR Basic Training with Nacho and Lucy Artigas as her trainers. Her initiation into EMDR had begun. Nachobecame her Supervisor as she studied and became an EMDR Institute Facilitator, EMDRIA Approved Consultant and later an EMDRInstitute Trainer. Currently, she is on the Board of Directors of EMDR Mexico and a Vice President for this organization. She became a member of the Asociación Mexicana para Ayuda Mental (AMAMECRISIS) and later a member of its Directing Council.
Susana took on many courses of study to deepen her knowledge of the work that she was doing. Although she had a very stable life, she knew that something was still bothering her as she was not really sleeping well and was living in fear that something would happen to anyone she loved. As she has always been a strong person, she went into EMDR treatment and realized that although she had had counseling, logotherapy and thanatology interventions, it was not until she had EMDR therapy that she had real relief. Her family noticed the change and saw her become happy, easy going and not terrified when they went out. She, herself, felt more integrated and could feel
the change in her innermost being. Her experience as a patient gave her the opportunity to tell the people whom she trains that EMDR therapy truly works.
She became a Trainer for the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) certified in Individual and Group Interventions, and Terrorism Counseling; a Field Traumatologist and Compassion Fatigue Educator certified by the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology; and a Group Facilitator and Moderator for Family and Education then a Promotor in Human Development for the Estudios Superiores en Desarrollo Humano Familiar.
In 2008, she went with the AMAMECRISIS team to Tabasco, to train 30 therapists who were working directly with the survivors of the November floods, to help them learn how to address recent trauma. Later, she went to Michoacán, Morelia, México and was part of the team giving training in Crisis Intervention to mental health professionals. They worked with the survivors of the September 15, 2008 Mexican Independence Day terrorist attacks where at least 8 people were killed and 100 people were injured. Since she joined Amamecrisis, she has not stopped working and responding to humanitarian needs.
As a result of all of her experience, Susana began giving “EMDR and Grief” trainings. In Cuernavaca, Morelos she worked with people whose family members were executed as a result of the drug cartels. She has found that these kinds of deaths do not resolve easily and the consequences are terrible, as violence only generates more violence.
With Nacho, she had several articles published in the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research and Revista Iberoamericana de Psicotraumatología y Disociación about using the EMDR Protocol for Recent Critical Incidents (EMDR-PRECI) to address the ongoing trauma that occurs in the wake of a human massacre situation where the clients continued to be subjected to ongoing trauma because of their occupations. Also, they wrote 2 chapters in Implementing EMDR Early Mental Health Interventions for Man-Made and Natural Disaster: Models, Scripted Protocols and Summary Sheets (2013) about “Recent Trauma Response: Actions for an Early Psychological Intervention,” and “Worst Case Scenarios in Recent Trauma Response.” In 2013, the Fundacion Latinoamericana y del Caribe para la Investigación del Trauma Psicológico was awarded the Francine Shapiro Award from the EMDR Iberoamérica Association for their research. This group has been an inspiring one for Susana.
In the past several years, her husband moved to Qatar for his job. Also, her youngest daughter has moved there and soon, her married daughter. Since Susana visits there frequently, she has learned more about the situation of expatriates in this country. Mental health issues are not addressed very often and there is a great deal of hidden violence against women, including overseas female workers whose employers mistreat and abuse them. She is hoping to do more work there to heighten their awareness of mental health issues and trauma specifically. Now that Susana has all of these skills, she believes that it is her responsibility to follow in the spirit of Hillel the Elder when he said, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And, if I am only for myself then what am I? And, if not now, when?”
To the EMDR Community, Susana wants to convey the following:
“I urge you to try EMDR yourselves. I know that we believe it, but to experience it in your own bodies allows you to truly understand it and share it. I think that we are privileged and have a big responsibility. We have a medicine for some of the most painful illnesses in the world. If we do not share it, it is a shame. We have a treasure and a very big responsibility. It is important to touch as many people as we can, as it will have huge consequences for them and their families. It is not too late. It is never too late.”
When Susana is not out in nature walking in the forest or riding horses at her father’s ranch, Las Palomas, she finds it important to do her Yoga practice and meditate to take care of her physical, mental and spiritual well-being. Also, she has a wonderful group of women friends with whom she meets to talk, chat and enjoy each other. Life is a rich event for Susana and she works with diligence and joy to take care of herself and others. She is a wonderful member of our EMDR community.