The first Western Mass EMDRIA meeting was on October 22, 2001, 7-9 pm at Smith College, prompted by September 11, 2001, with 43 EMDR clinicians present. The agenda was to examine our role as EMDR clinicians in response to the events of September 11 in NYC, debrief, and to determine how we could be of assistance to each other and to the community. After the first meeting, we planned to host annual fall and spring meetings, with presentations on a topic of interest plus networking time.
From this first meeting we published the first Directory of Western Massachusetts EMDR clinicians in 2002, initially in paper format, under the direction of Farnsworth Lobenstine. He continued to oversee publication of the directory for several years.
Esther Bean was the first official Regional Coordinator for Western MA, for a brief time. Nancy Knudson and Shanti Shapiro became Regional Co-Coordinators in Spring 2002, until Shanti resigned in Fall 2004. Nancy Knudson and George Abbott then developed the first committee of eight to help organize the first annual full day training in March 2005. The committee in its first years included Farnsworth Lobenstine, George Abbott, Mark Nickerson, Ross Hackerson, Barbara Meyer, Karen Rowe, Melissa Tefft, Caryn Markson and Nancy Knudson (continuing as Regional Coordinator) through 2009. The first committee configuration also organized the 2006 conference “EMDR and the Family System.”
Farnsworth Lobenstine began hosting free EMDR study groups early on, fostering a welcoming and accessible community. He also helped inspire the first full day event in 2005 (working with veterans).
At the 2006 EMDRIA Conference in Philadelphia, Nancy Knudson and Shanti Shapiro (posthumously) were given the Outstanding Regional Coordinator award.
In 2008 Mark Nickerson shadowed Nancy Knudson to learn the Regional Coordinator role, then the following year Knudson and Nickerson co-coordinated. Mark Nickerson acted as sole Regional Coordinator from 2010-2014, strengthening the role of our annual conference within the national EMDRIA network, increasing conference attendance to 220!
Mark Nickerson trained Jim Helling, who became a Regional Co-Coordinator in 2014 as Nickerson turned his attention to national and global EMDR matters, later serving on the national EMDRIA as Board President. Jim Helling’s vision has produced our first two live streaming events, one on treating Veterans, followed by live-streaming, for the first time, our annual 2016 conference. He also has made cultural competency and diversity amongst EMDR clinicians a goal of our region, inaugurating our first scholarships for EMDR-trained clinicians of color for our 2016 annual conference.
Stephanie Baird joined as a Regional Co-Coordinator in Fall 2015 and brought our website and logo up to date. She also worked with Melysa Friedman, Board Secretary, on transitioning the committee into its official non-profit incorporated status.
There have been many long-term committee members, notably Jane Porter (2009-2015), guru of all things CEU-related, Jane Laskey (2009-2016), our incredibly meticulous site coordinator for the conference, and Jason Rose-Langston (2006-2017) web/tech expert, and coordinator of the online directory.
Barbara Meyer moderated our online list serve for several years, followed by Jason Rose-Langston, and then George Abbott took over in December 2013, operating as an ad hoc volunteer. We have had other ad hoc volunteers over the years that help with the conference and other endeavors. Our region has developed into an exceptionally strong community of EMDR clinicians due to this culture of pitching in whenever and wherever help is needed. We continue to welcome the help of new volunteers. If you are interested, please contact one of the regional co-coordinators to find out how you can further participate in this thriving community.