The current study evaluated the eye movement desensitization and reprocessing integrative group treatment protocol (EMDR-IGTP) delivered within a novel psychosocial program for child refugees. One Libyan and seven Syrian children, aged 6 to 11 years 10 months (five boys), received four 3-hour sessions, with IGTP in the second session. The study investigated whether IGTP would be valuable for child refugees whose trauma symptoms failed to reach Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service thresholds. In addition, the project aimed to identify cultural hurdles that may hinder access to Western psychological approaches. Qualitative data were collected from eight children, two therapists (an eye movement desensitization and reprocessing [EMDR] practitioner and a family care worker), and a focus group of four Arab interpreters. The qualitative design involved children completing rating scales at the beginning and end of each session and the Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) scale for traumatic memories before and after EMDR-IGTP. Therapists reflected on outcomes in a postintervention report, and the interpreters discussed cultural challenges in a focus group. IGTP appeared to lead to reduced internal distress and perceived increases in emotional awareness for children. Therapists’ reports affirmed reduced disturbance and highlighted the cultural sensitivity of IGTP. The interpreters’ focus group emphasized the challenges of language, the stigma of mental illness, and the differing levels of communicative control across cultures. Future studies of IGTP, embedded within psychosocial programs for refugee children, need to utilize experimental research designs including culturally sensitive outcome measures.
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Hurn, R., & Barron, I. (2018). The EMDR Integrative Group Treatment Protocol in a Psychosocial Program for Refugee Children: A Qualitative Pilot Study. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 12(4), 208–223. https://doi.org/10.1891/1933-3220.127.116.11
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research