A Community of Heart Profile: Esly Regina Souza de Carvalho
When a powerful person walks into a room, it is evident. Whether it is the surety of step, the self-possessed presence, and/or the keenness of attention to surroundings, it is felt.
I first met Esly Regina Souza de Carvalho through email. Although it was only through the mysterious vectors of the Internet, I could feel the power of her presence. When I met her several years later in person, I was not disappointed.
Esly calls herself a “third culture kid”; a phrase coined by David Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken who wrote a book called “Third Culture Kids: Living amongst worlds.” Third culture kids are children raised in a culture that does not belong to their parents. They are taught the mother country values and are left to figure things out in their “new” culture.” As Esly was a shy child, she found straddling the two worlds particularly difficult. The fact that she was a great student helped her make this transition and set the ground work for her great sensitivity to different cultures and understanding the basic human needs that arise cross-culturally.
Esly was born in União da Vitoria, in the state of Paraná, Brazil. She is the eldest of four siblings; the three girls were born in Brazil and her brother was born in the United States. In her early years, she went back and forth between Brazil and the United States as her family moved to Dallas, Texas so her father could work on his Masters. Although Portuguese was her first spoken language, English was her first written language, and “Texan” was her first introduction to English. She attended Elementary School through 10 th grade in Dallas the she returned to Brazil to finish High School.
In her household, she was known as the girl who had the gift early on of being able to talk and counsel her friends. When her mother suggested that this gift could be translated into the career of becoming a psychologist, Esly declined thinking that this profession meant that she would have to work just with “crazy people.” Despite her mother’s explanation, that, on the contrary, psychologists work with people who have problems, Esly declined to entertain this profession at 16 years of age.
Years later, Esly decided to give psychology a 6-month trial and found that she loved it. For her professional education, Esly went to live in Porto Alegre in the southern port of Brazil and attended the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. She later finished her course work at the Unified Educational Center of Brasilia (CEUB). The educational system is more like the European system and by the time she completed High School in Brazil, she had just about completed the college equivalent in the United States. She received her University /College Teaching Certification in Psychology at the CEUB.
By 1983, she had begun to study Group Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy. She was a natural at this work and noted that the first time that she set foot on the Psychodrama stage, she thought, “I was born to do this thing.” In what was clearly to become a pattern, Esly’s passion for this form of psychotherapy propelled her to study everything she could on the subject. She became trained as a Trainer of Psychodrama by the Brazilian Federation of Psychodrama (FEBRAP) and later a Supervisor of Psychodrama by this organization. She was the only Latin American Trainer who went through the accreditation process to become a Trainer/Educator/Practitioner (TEP) certified by the American Board of Examiners and Psychodrama and Sociometry. She completed this process with distinction.
In 1987, she was awarded a Master’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Brasilia. Her original research thesis was on “The Sociometric Structure of Alcoholic Families.” The following year she began to work toward a Ph.D. in Psychology at the same university but her studies were interrupted due to her transfer to Ecuador.
Life was full in Quito, Ecuador. Not only did Esly raise her family, she pioneered Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy in her new surroundings. For several years, she was the Secretary for the Office of Pastoral Care for Family, Women and Children (CLAI) for Latin America. In 1993-1997, she sat on the Editorial Board of the Boletin SIDA/AIDS, a quarterly publication published by MAP International. From 1993-1995, she was the International Coordinator for Eirene International, coordinating activities for a Latin American network of Family Counseling professionals. At the same time, she was teaching Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy training courses here and in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia to the Psychology staff of the Universidad Evangelical.
In 1994, her family was transferred to Colorado Springs, Colorado. This city was already known for excellent researchers and teachers of EMDR such as Sandra Wilson, Bob Tinker, Lee Becker, John Hartung and Michael Galvin.
Esly worked part-time at several jobs during her stay in Colorado. She was an outpatient Clinical Therapist at Parkview Episcopal Hospital and in inpatient care at the New Life Clinic, both in Pueblo, CO and, also, she worked part-time in Colorado Springs as a Counselor at Profile EAP and an outpatient Professional Counselor at the New Life Clinic.
It was in Colorado Springs that she had her first EMDR session when she could not find a Psychodramatist with whom to work. Her response to EMDR was that she was “amazed” and “impressed” by the sheer power of the change that she experienced after her work with EMDR. There were things that she thought would never shift, that changed with EMDR. Being a “results person,” Esly was convinced that EMDR was worth pursuing for herself and her patients. At the time, with that passion that has come to be her signature, she told her husband that she was going to get trained in EMDR and take it back to Ecuador. And, so she did.
She took her Part 1 EMDR Institute training in Denver in 1996 and later Part 2 in 1997. During those trainings, she encountered the dynamic duo of John Hartung and Michael Galvin.
Esly returned to Quito in 1998 filled with possibilities. She became a Clinical Psychologist in her own Private Practice at the Plaza del Encuentro. She worked as a Coordinator for the Program on Sex Education and Reproductive Health (CLAI) giving training workshops in fourteen countries. She was a Consultant/Supervisor for organizations involved in family violence, sexual abuse recovery and crisis intervention from 1998-2002 in Quito and from 1999-2001, she was a Professor for Post-graduate Diplomate at the Central University of Ecuador. She had never stopped giving training courses in Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy where she trained health professionals (doctors, psychologists, social workers) to become psychodramatists.
The greatest testimony to her work in Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy is that, after setting it up and moving away because of her husband’s transfer to Dallas in 2002, her students continued to work in this therapy and will host the Iberian-American Psychodrama conference in 2009 in Quito, Ecuador.
With all that she was accomplishing, she also found time to start the EMDR movement in Ecuador as she predicted to her husband while they were living in Colorado. She invited John Hartung and Ligia Barascout to do the first trainings in Ecuador. By 2001, Esly had become an EMDR Institute Facilitator and in 2004 she became a trainer. Her impetus to follow this path was much the same as when she pursued her love of Psychodrama. She felt it was important to be involved with training professionals who will go on to heal their patients for many years to come. By moving on to be a Trainer of Trainers a year later, her ability to touch many lives multiplied exponentially and she noted that, “My reproductive capacity is being fully utilized even though I have only one biological child.”
Esly has embraced EMDR into her career. Her practice and her trainings are EMDR-oriented. She is part of a greater Ibero-American family that was cultivated and nurtured by John Hartung. Included in this group are Ignacio Jarero and Lucina Artigas from Mexico, Maria Elena Aduriz from Argentina, and Ligia Barascout de Piedra Santa from Guatemala. This is the first group of Trainer of Trainers from South and Central America authorized by Francine Shapiro through the EMDR Institute. Her work has spanned two continents to include Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Spain and Portugal. She is equally facile training in Portuguese or Spanish.
Part of her foundation and wisdom springs from her collaboration with her long-time colleague and friend from Brazil, Andre Monteiro. With Andre, Esly has written journal articles, confided, brain- stormed, worked on cases and taught EMDR. She has completed training Andre to be a Trainer and is currently training Ricardo Texeira to be part of their Brazilian team of trainers.
Together they are organizing the first Ibero-American conference that so far will include at least 200 people from 14 countries. She was asked to be President of the conference. This collaboration has been the incentive for the practitioners from Portugal, Spain, Mexico, Central and South America to come together to create an EMDR Ibero-American Association that will unite Portuguese and Spanish-speaking cultures. In fact, the conference will be conducted in both Portuguese and Spanish. The Board of EMDR Ibero-America will come together to create standards of practice to be in compliance with the standards set by EMDRIA and the EMDR Institute.
Esly has presented workshops and presentations throughout South, Central and North America. She has showcased her work at EMDRIA conferences in the United States and in Europe and been in diverse settings such as the Andean Psychodrama Conference in Quito (2006); the Caribbean Trade Show in Puerto Rico (2005); the Ibero-American Psychodrama Congress in Mexico City (2005), the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama Annual Conference in Miami (2005); Viva Network in The Netherlands (2003); the CAPS Convention in Kansas City (1993); 1 Brazilian Seminar on Humanism and Logotherapy in Brasilia (1987); and the Fourth Brazilian Congress on Psychodrama in Brazil (1984).
Esly has had another career in publishing her own work in the form of books, papers and manuals. Her areas of interest range from emotional health, families in crisis, cross-cultural themes, disaster work, forgiveness and reconciliation, psychodrama, being single, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS counseling, alchoholism, pastoral counseling, abortion, and bibliodrama. Several of her books were finalists for the best book of the year. Her work has been written in Portuguese, Spanish and/or English. Esly has also translated works from English to Portuguese and from Spanish to Portuguese.
When asked if she had a message for the EMDR community, Esly responded in this way:
“I think we really need to continue to work together in order to have a better world. People do a lot of stupid things because they are hurt. The truth is, we never really have recovered from being thrust into such an imperfect world. Deep down, we expect perfect relationships, expect perfection from our friends and spouses, and never really comprehend evil or accidents. As a result of this pain, people often act out in violence or confrontation, and hurt others. We have an incredibly powerful tool in our hands with EMDR and we need to use it as much as possible to improve our world. We ourselves need to be the example of teamwork and cooperation. We need to set the standard in our own lives and mirror healing and recovery as well as offer it to others. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that I have such a huge debt of gratitude to John - not only did he train and mentor us well, he set the example with his own life.”
Esly has a wide-range of interests outside her profession that include playing the guitar, doing cross-stitch, reading, spending time with her family, learning about new cultures and visiting her daughter, Raquel, in Denton where she is at the University of North Texas in Denton. She is finishing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. In fact, one of Esly’s joys was to have her daughter accompany her to the EMDRIA 2007 Conference in Dallas earlier this year.
Esly is a dynamic, passionate frontiersperson who has conquered the multi-cultural schism that she experienced early in life by diving into it and creating bridges of healing amongst the people and the cultures that she has encountered. We are lucky to have her as part of our extended EMDR community.