A Community of Heart Profile: Ad de Jongh
Psychologist. Dentist. Professor. Psychotraumatologist. Author. Board Member. EMDRologist. Trainer. Network coordinator. Father. Husband. Colleague. Friend. Humorist. Bugs Bunny aficionado.
Ad de Jongh is a man who wears his many hats with aplomb and great style. He is a tall man with clear, sparkling, blue eyes and an unmistakable crop of auburn hair. I met him in the early ‘90’s during the first EMDR Institute trainings in Europe. These began in the famed Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam. In the midst of this old warm charm, Ad stepped forward from The Netherlands a long with his counterparts Francois Bonnel of France, Arne Hofmann of Germany, Elan Shapiro of Israel and John Spector of the United Kingdom to translate their interest and enthusiasm for EMDR into a plan to teach this new methodology throughout Europe.
He began by raising his colleagues’ interest in EMDR through his professional organizations, encouraging qualified professionals throughout The Netherlands and Europe to learn EMDR by taking seminars in this methodology. As the numbers of interested therapists and academicians grew -and with the assistance of Erik ten Broeke, Ellen Latenstein and Joany Spierings- he began to build The Netherlands’ Network of EMDR practitioners. They disseminate the Network Newsletter three times per year, hold educational meetings and are proud of their 200 members in the organization. Through this concerted effort, EMDR is now considered a mainstream therapy in The Netherlands.
Ad’s own development in EMDR began in 1992 when he took his first training seminar in this field. He went on to become a sponsor of trainings in Amsterdam and Utrecht and then became a facilitator for the EMDR Institute. Currently, he is training to be an EMDR Trainer and teach EMDR in the Dutch language.
Ad’s interest in having a strong European union evolved over time and resulted –along with the assistance with many of his colleagues- in the birth of the EMDR European Association (EMDRE) last year. He is on the Board of Directors for this organization and holds the elected post of Treasurer for EMDRE. As a result of his interest in research, he joined the Scientific Committee of the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA).
Ad’s career consists of two distinct professions: dentistry and psychology. The common denominator that he has discovered in these two fields is based on his primary understanding of trauma. It is through his unique way of integrating the traumatic elements of these two professions that he has become one of the world’s experts on dental phobia and a well-respected leader in the discipline of Psychotraumatology. Now that he knows EMDR, he has incorporated this method into his treatment strategy.
Ad’s interest in research is extensive. He is a prolific author with more than 80 scientific articles and book chapters on the treatment of dental phobias and fear related to dentistry to his credit. He is a Senior Investigator of The Netherlands Institute for Dental Sciences (IOT) and was involved as a principal investigator in several research projects for this organization. Also, he is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the War Trauma Foundation International (WTFI), Secretary of the Dutch Association for Social Dentistry (NVSST) and a member of the Federation of Dutch Scientific Associations in Dentistry (FTW).
The area of trauma is exciting to Ad and his interest in reflected in his many accomplishments and appointments in this field. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at the Academic Centre for Dentistry at the University of Amsterdam. The Netherlands (ACTA) is the largest dental school in the world with 700 students. Here he does research, reviews articles, teaches, and supervises two Ph.D. candidates. He is the only professor at the University who has his appointment in the field of Trauma and one of his jobs is to make EMDR well-known throughout The Netherlands one day a week! Also, he is a faculty member for the Institute for Psychotrauma (IVP) in Zaltbommel.
Ad is the Director of the Centre for Psychotherapy and Psychotrauma in Bilthoven. He opened this Center in 1998 to address the overwhelming demand to assist victims of violence, PTSD, medical phobias and phobias in general. Also, in 1998, he opened D.O.E.N. (Directe Opvang En Nazorg) in Druten for the employees of shops, banks and other companies. The aim of D.O.E.N. is to help victims receive immediate help subsequent to a critical incident, robbery, job-related incident, motor vehicle accident, medical emergency and/or other traumatic incidents so that they can address their psychological needs and return to work as soon as possible. This is a 24-hour a day facility that employs 20 people to address the needs of employees all over The Netherlands. There are two employees who stand-by for emergencies at all times. The longest distance they have to drive in this small country is 300 Km to reach their patients.
Ad’s interest in Dentistry is primarily in addressing the problems of people who have not been to a dentist for a long time. He specializes in treating traumatized individuals. He notes that often his patients are victims of sexual abuse who cannot tolerate the idea of lying down in a dental chair and feeling helpless. He uses EMDR, and Exposure Therapy to give his patients a good experience and help build a relationship with them so that they are an active part of the dental process. He begins by building a relationship of trust and then does the dental work in little pieces. If a patient has difficulty because of trauma, he introduces each part of the dental procedure and works with the patient whenever flashbacks, panic or concerns arise.
He notes that the phobia literature does not make distinctions between a spider and snake phobia and a traumatic phobia that has much more in common with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. He reports that patients with dental phobias -when tested with the IES (Impact of Event Scale) and other measures of their symptoms 7 days prior to their dental appointment- show that these patients have “full-blown PTSD.”
Although Ad admits to enjoying doing many other activities after work, he most enjoys being with his “three women”, his wife and two young daughters. He has moved from the lovely, university town of Utrecht to the more rural area of Bilthoven that is in the forest. He is a man truly content with his work and his play and an integral part of the EMDR international.