There are not enough psychotherapists to offer individual trauma intervention to the tens of millions of people traumatized around the world. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a proven trauma treatment but requires substantial time and financial resources for training. One solution may be low-intensity intervention with the flash technique (FT) offered one-on-one online and based on highly scripted instructions in which participants can work on their distressing memories independently. The FT is a protocol that was originally developed for the preparation phase of EMDR and only requires a few hours of training.
In this study, we aim to explore whether a scripted FT protocol used by inexperienced student clinicians might be effective. Nine master-level social work students, trained in FT and under licensed supervision, offered individual FT treatment online using a scripted protocol. Participants were admitted to the study with an Impact of Event Scale—Revised (IES-R) score of >24. Pre- and posttreatment surveys were collected from 30 participants who each received 6 sessions of individual therapy. No follow-up study data was collected. The IES-R data dropped from a pretreatment mean of 45.97 (SD = 14.5, 95% CI = [40.78, 51.16]) to posttreatment mean of 25.33 (SD = 14.92, 95% CI = [19.99, 30.67]), with a p-value of <.00001 and a Cohen’s d = 1.4, showed a large effect size.
Interpretation of the study results is limited due to a lack of a control group and a relatively small sample size (n = 30). Furthermore, since we did not follow participants posttreatment, the impact of the intervention over time is unknown for this study. Even so, the data suggested that the scripted FT protocol might be usable even by inexperienced student clinicians, paving the way for its use as a low-intensity trauma intervention.
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Gustavson, K., Wong, S.-L., & Le, D. (2023). Research on Low-Intensity Flash Technique Trauma Intervention by Prelicensed Student Clinicians. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 17(2), 54–69. https://doi.org/10.1891/EMDR-2022-0059
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research