Derek Farrell on EMDR with Unspoken Trauma. Chelmsford, Saturday, November 30 2019.

The EMDR Association’s East Anglia group was delighted to welcome our very own Derek Farrell, former Association President and international expert on all things EMDR, for a classic regional networking day with a special focus on working with what he terms Unspoken Trauma.

Derek spent the morning at this new venue for us, Chelmsford’s cricket ground, taking us through the standard, structured EMDR approach for clients who can’t or aren’t ready to share specific and often intimate details of what happened to them.

“Certain trauma experiences have ‘no voice’,” says Derek, “often when traumas involve deep-rooted shame, or fear of retribution”.

The workshop (Powerpoint handout here) outlined some of the key components of ‘unspoken trauma’, relating for example to child abuse, gender-based violence, conflict, atrocities and human rights violations.

Derek shared with us country case studies including Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as individual narratives.

For the purpose of this workshop, survivors of ‘unspoken traumas’ were viewed through the lens of ‘Adaptive Information Processing (AIP)’, exploring six considerations:

  • Psychoeducation
  • Trauma Stabilisation
  • Trauma Confrontation
  • Intensive Trauma Treatment
  • EMDR Group Interventions
  • Post-Traumatic Growth and Resilience

Broader aspects also included findings from an empirical study carried out in Iraq using the Blind 2 Therapist Protocol.

The B2T protocol as it’s known in the research community, was developed several years ago now by our UK colleague David Blore, specifically to work with tough coal miners who would never acknowledge, at least early in the EMDR process, to any Negative Cognition involving weakness of lack of control.

In the years since then, Derek has led research with traumatised communities in post-war Iraq which demonstrates powerfully how well EMDR can work with trauma targets involving shame and without having to name any cognitions at all in Phase 3, and therefore no SUDs or VoC either.

Needless to say, this is research that has important implications for understanding why and how EMDR works at all even with clients who might be prepared to share details in Phase 3 assessment.