After months of preparation, we are about to start the long-awaited EMDR group therapy sessions. I am so grateful to Nurse Avant for her diligent work on the paperwork and supporting research. I am also grateful for those volunteers who will participate in the therapy sessions.
I have taken some portions of the research proposal to reprint for you devoted readers interested in the research supporting our current endeavor to help more people access effective therapy.
EMDR is usually conducted in individual sessions and is not available to all due to the high cost per session and the lack of providers trained in the valuable therapy (NIMH, 2018). One therapist trained in EMDR has the availability to complete a handful of sessions each week and has the potential to help a few individuals at a time (over a six to eight week span) due to other therapy obligations and time constraints. Individuals with means to pay for individual sessions is also a barrier. Collaboration with community health professionals to employ EMDR in a group setting (EMDR-IGTP), has the potential to bring the beneficial therapy to more people in the community experiencing PTSD, therefore also making a bigger impact on suicide rates.
Research on EMDR has also been expanded to determine if results are different for groups that just simply recall the memories compared to those that recall the memory and complete the eye movements (EM) (Littel, M., van Schie, K., & van den Hout, M.,A., 2017). Researchers wanted to test Shapiro’s eye movement theory and determine if the eye movements played a role in the processing of the traumatic event or if it was simply recalling the painful memory (Littel, M., van Schie, K., & van den Hout, M.A., 2017). Research found that the eye movements during recall of the traumatic event were important in the reduction of the symptoms experienced (Littel, M., van Schie, K., & van den Hout, M,A., 2017).
In 2015, Artigas et al., (2015) developed a protocol to conduct EMDR in a group setting for children after mass trauma. The protocol was based on research after multiple mass casualty events around the world including hurricanes, earthquakes, war and fires (Artigas, Jarero, Alcala & Lopez-Cano, 2015). The protocol was developed and studied on children in groups after large man-made and natural disasters and proven beneficial in the reduction of trauma symptoms and included modifications for cultural differences (Artigas, Jarero, Alcala & Lopez-Cano, 2015). In studies like the above, all participants experienced the same traumatizing event.
The EMDR-IGTP protocol was later adapted to target adults after trauma in a group setting (Jarero & Artigas, 2015). The EMDR-IGTP for adults was developed as a guideline to provide EMDR therapy in a group setting for adult patients (Jarero & Artigas, 2015). The EMDR-IGTP for adults was adapted from the children’s version and can be used for adults experiencing the same mass trauma or for adults with a “diverse trauma history with unifying circumstances” (Jarero, 2019, p. 2). The EMDR-IGTP for adults was used in 2017 in Mexico with a group of patients with cancer experiencing PTSD beneficial in decreasing symptoms and improved the processing of trauma (Jararo, 2019).
In a similar study, EMDR-IGTP was used on adult Syrian refugees’ with PTSD and found to be beneficial in reducing symptoms (Asena,Emre, Tuba, Zeynep, Feryal, Mustafa, Canan, & Elan, 2018). The EMDR-IGTP has the potential to improve access to the beneficial therapy and reduce symptoms of PTSD which ultimately has the potential to have a positive impact on suicide rates.