A Community of Heart Profile: Edmund Gergarian
It was summer when I first met Edmund Gergarian at one of the early EMDR conferences, at the time when they were sponsored by the EMDR Institute. Immediately, I was drawn to his shy, quiet smile, little realizing what a powerhouse of a scientist, clinician, and educator I had met that day.
Over the years, I have come to understand the depth of Edmund's intellect and his dedication to his country Armenia. Edmund is a physician with a specialty in Psychiatry whose distinguished career began at Cairo University Medical School Faculty of Medicine where he earned his medical degree in 1965. He completed his Internship in Cairo University Hospitals and then won and completed a Pathology Fellowship at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Edmund did another internship at West Jersey Hospital and became a Psychiatric Resident at Thomas Jefferson University before becoming Chief Resident. He won a research Fellowship in Clinical Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York and is licensed to practice Medicine and Surgery in New York, Pennsylvania, and Egypt.
Edmund's career has been an interesting and diverse one. He spent ten years at South Beach Psychiatric Center working as a Unit Psychiatrist before becoming Unit Director. His interest in research earned him the position of Clinical Director and Director of Research during a time when he also served as the Director of the Psychiatric Residency Training Program. In 1984, he moved to the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center and served as Chief Medical Officer of the Secure Care Units. He left Kingsboro in 1987 for the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Services Office, where he continues to serve as the Chief of Psychiatry. He has also been the Attending Psychiatrist at the Armenian Home for the Aged in Flushing, New York from 1980 to the present. Edmund's broad research experience reflects his varied interests-the understanding of facial expressions, differentiating Mania from Schizophrenia, emotion theory based on facial expressions, Minimal Brain Dysfunction Scales in Adults, biofeedback treatment of Tardive Dyskinesia, PTSD in Genocide Survivors, and EMDR studies but Edmund's first priority remains helping people in need. From 1989 to 1990, he undertook two missions of mercy to Soviet Armenia to provide crisis intervention and treatment for the survivors of the Armenian Earthquake in Leminakan, Kirovakan and Spitak. During that time, he worked with 120 school age children and 100 adults using cognitive stress management, biofeedback, and stress inoculation training, teaching these methods to twenty school psychologists at the Leminakan Pedagogic Institute.
In 1994, he was awarded the Humanitarian Assistance Award from the President of the Republic of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrossian. The following year, he was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Armenian Behavioral Science Association for outstanding contributions to the behavioral sciences.
Edmund completed his basic training in EMDR in 1993 and, from the moment he understood that EMDR was an excellent treatment for traumatized individuals, focused his sights on bringing EMDR training to clinicians in Armenia. In 1993, Edmund took the trainings offered by Dr. Francine Shapiro of the EMDR Institute in Pacific Grove a second time to study how she taught EMDR. He attended Dr. Shapiro's Special University Course at the 1995 EMDRIA Conference and continued to work on his EMDR presentation skills under the supervision of William Zangwill, Ph.D., an EMDR Institute trainer.
By 1997, Edmund had begun the difficult process of translating the manual from the EMDR Institute into Armenian and forming a team of well-trained, Armenian-speaking EMDR clinicians. To solidify his clinical skills in EMDR, he went on to take Dr. Shapiro's Advanced Clinical Applications and Case Consultation course at Punte Serena in 1998.
Unfortunately, Edmund's plans to train clinicians in Armenia were stalled due to a lack of financial resources. On January 1, 1998, he made a commitment to finance the entire training as soon as he received approval from Dr. Shapiro and the Training and Standards Committee of EMDRIA. Upon their approval, he made plans for the first EMDR training in June 1998 in Yerevan, Republic of Armenia. Due to the undeveloped resources in psychotherapy teaching, training, and practice, he decided to ensure an excellent standard of training by lengthening the training to five days to allow time for personal practicum supervision as well as supervision for patients. He also incorporated e-mail support as follow-up to facilitate supervision after the training.
At that time, Edmund's dream was "to provide these trainings on a yearly basis until an Armenian EMDRlA Chapter [was] formed in Armenia." For his first approved training, Edmund and his Armenian- speaking colleagues, Meline Karakashian, Ph.D., and Liza Papazian, M.S., C.S.W., trained 21 clinicians in Armenia.
During 1999, Edmund put the finishing touches on the translation of the second part of his EMDR training for Armenia clinicians, an advanced training he will be providing to the 21 clinicians who finished this year's training in July. Additionally, Edmund and his assistant, Liza Papazian, will train 18 to twenty new clinicians using last year's format, which includes at least three practica, a training that will be partially underwritten by the Humanitarian Assistance Program of the EMDR Institute and by Edmund himself.
Edmund Gergarian has my nomination for a truly splendid soul and all-around humanitarian. Thank you, Edmund, for all you have done in the world and for upholding a high standard of the practice of EMDR.