Report by Shirley Young, Regional Group Secretary
Around 70 of us met for a fascinating day of networking and helpful presentations and the usual opportunities for asking questions. The Q&A section and networking groups were enhanced by having the expertise of several EMDR Association Board members available to us.
Regional Co-Chair Mark Brayne introduced the day and welcomed the EMDR Association President Derek Farrell, President-Elect Lorraine Knibbs, co-ordinator on the Board for the regions Paul Keenan, and our first speaker (and himself also past President of the Association) Robin Logie.
Robin’s presentation introduced us to the FlashForward Procedure (FFP) or, as Cindy Browning named it in an EMDRIA newsletter, the float-forward technique.
Unlike the Future Template, which targets a predictable feared event, the FFP targets an imagined catastrophic event that is unlikely to occur but may preoccupy the client sufficiently to impair full re- engagement with their life.
Robin explained that while EMDR’s AIP model is about unprocessed traumatic events, our conditioned fear stimulus makes us susceptible to react to conditions that in some way remind us of the original trauma.
Our reaction to, or avoidance of, the trigger can be associated with our unrecognised belief about the imagined consequences of our most catastrophic outcome.
Targeting this imagined catastrophic event can uncover fundamental issues and even unresolved events that may have been missed in processing past and present events.
In describing the FFP Robin encouraged us to keep asking “what is the worst thing that could happen” and then “what would be the worst thing about that happening”. Dying isn’t enough!
It is important to illicit the full meaning of the catastrophic event following the scenario to its ultimate conclusion. Sometimes this uncovers surprising meanings for the client and may be helpful as an exercise even without processing.
The standard protocol is then used to process the catastrophic meaning of the event.
Robin shared the example of a lady frightened of being killed as a result of being knocked off her bike. Although the original trauma had been processed and she had attempted to re-engage with cycling, she was still too frightened to cycle.
Using the FFP her catastrophic outcome was not dying but that dying would mean she would lose her family, who would no longer be around her. When asked to choose what was worse – dying or losing her family – the client identified the latter. “Going with that” choice, she realised that dying actually wasn’t so bad!
Aside from Robin’s main presentation on the FlashForward, we explored also a number of other useful techniques. These included the narrative approach for helping process a child’s story, where the therapist writes down the story in appropriate language, drawing on all appropriate sources including the child and the parents, and reads it back to the child, with BLS as it unfolds.
We heard too of the vertical hand technique for helping calm arousal, and for soothing headaches/migraine. (I know that one delegate experimented with this during one of the breaks and reduced her headache with good effect!)
Our second presenter of the day was Derek Farrell. Before fielding EMDR questions from the floor, he was able to give us a helpful overview of EMDR internationally, drawing on his experience as vice-president of EMDR Europe and his involvement with Trauma Aid UK and Trauma Aid Europe.
Despite our frequent frustration with psychological services in the UK and the gap between what we know could be possible with the right funding and what is actually available, Derek helped us realise that we are, in fact, quite privileged.
Countries which have experienced violence and even genocide such as Cambodia, Iraq, and Pakistan have poor mental health services, and lack understanding about trauma and its effects. Our understanding that there is a correlation between adverse childhood experiences and poor physical health outcomes is now being clearly observed in these countries.
Derek conveyed the difficulties of introducing training in countries where one is not building on previous psychotherapeutic knowledge. Instead training involves building trauma capacity. This involves providing education about what constitutes trauma, and then how to assess risk, manage psychological triage, provide trauma first aid and identify who requires treatment.
Derek also noted that progress is often hampered by established professionals who struggle to allow para-professionals to work in new ways that challenge the status quo.
After this introduction Derek fielded a variety of EMDR-related questions.
A key theme that Derek highlighted was the need for research that moved away from practice-based to research-based evidence. The possibility of moving EMDR training to university-based training could address this issue.
He also noted that it was important to identify what data was required beyond purely psychological data if funding was to be forthcoming and the effectiveness of EMDR as applied to different situations was to compete with the research base for CBT.
EMDR Europe is trying to address the research issue by encouraging small RCT trials in different countries, with the view to pooling outcomes.
Mid-afternoon we split, as usual, into network groups well supported by the wealth of expertise on hand. Groups included DID, OCD, Accreditation, Depression, Accumulated trauma and Psychosis.
Before the day concluded Derek, Lorraine & Paul joined Consultants from our own network to provide a panel to explore further questioning from the floor.
All in all, this was a most satisfying day in a splendid venue with good food and the occasional amusement supplied by Treasurer Joe Kearney taking photos from the back and Mark fielding the technical problems caused by computers packing up and power disturbance.
A raffle in aid of Trauma Aid UK (TAUK) had more meaning after hearing Derek’s earlier presentation, and Robin has let us know that we made a total of £363.50, including £189.50 in sales of books and support materials, and £174 on the raffle.
Regional Co-Chair Sonya Farrell also let us know that Walid Abdul-Hamid, Chelmsford regional rep and accredited Consultant, had only just arrived back from Gaziantep in Turkey where he had been training for TAUK, and yet managed despite jetlag and lack of sleep to participate in our Q&A. There’s dedication and commitment!
We look forward to our next regional networking day in Norwich on Saturday April 22nd, with Dr Jamie Marich from the USA, being as enjoyable and fruitful.