Internationally, Trauma Recovery/HAP works to increase the capacity of caregivers within the host country to provide effective mental health services to the under-served, and supports practices that ensure the capacity developed is actually applied to meet the needs of the under-served.
Tsunami in South East Asia
In Thailand, India and Sri Lanka, 200 local clinicians responding to the tsunami were trained over the past year. Many are now immersed in EMDR Part II training and reporting substantial accomplishments already after their Part I training last Spring. In India, a new cohort of clinicians has just begun Part I training and local EMDR associations are beginning to form in Sri Lanka and Thailand, as the reputation of EMDR grows.
In each case, the full benefit of Trauma Recovery/HAP’s work rests on shifting the focus from disaster response to mental health resource development. That transition occurred in Turkey after a major earthquake several years ago; today there are growing numbers of EMDR clinicians in Turkey and Turkish consultants visit other countries as Trauma Recovery/HAP volunteers.
Each country where we work presents its own unique pattern of need and resources, and a common goal for HAP – the emergence of a self-sustaining community of EMDR practice.
Trauma Recovery/HAP has returned to Palestine after a four-year interruption. Thirty clinicians from the East Jerusalem YMCA will study and practice EMDR just outside of
Bethlehem as a three-year development project gets under way. Trauma Recovery/HAP volunteers are bringing a powerful mental health resource to a region overwhelmed by the stress of inter-group conflicts and the dislocations they cause.
During the bloody wars in the Balkans, a coalition of humanitarian organizations, including U.S. AID, Catholic Relief Services and two Croatian-based groups, asked for Trauma Recovery/HAP’s help in responding to the mental health needs of refugees and the traumatized population overall. After a series of trainings in Croatia, the team was subsequently invited to continue the trainings in Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.
In 1998, officials in Bangladesh recognized the healing potential EMDR offered to millions of Bangladeshi who were suffering from the ravages of natural and manmade disasters, and teamed up with HAP in a pioneering effort to train all of the country’s mental health professionals in the EMDR. The effort spanned six months and involved more than 40 HAP volunteers. Trained clinicians now form the core of a healing community that continues to serve the mental health needs of the population to this day.
“[EMDR Founder] Dr. [Francine] Shapiro’s work has proven invaluable to clinicians around the world in helping people following trauma.”
Atle Dyregrov, Ph.D.
When Hurricane Pauline devastated parts of Mexico in October 1997, Trauma Recovery/HAP clinicians from the U.S. and Canada responded. They treated school yards of traumatized children with a group EMDR protocol, and then went on to train local therapists. When catastrophic earthquakes and flooding struck Central and South America a few years later, the Mexican therapists continued the healing chain by responding quickly to treat survivors and train clinicians in those countries’ devastated villages. In each of these areas, large numbers of children and parents have received treatment for trauma symptoms.
In April 2002, hundreds of school children witnessed a small plane crashing into a neighboring building in Milan, Italy, and watched in horror as debris, clothing and body parts rained down. One month after the crash, the children were still unable to eat or sleep normally. Trauma Recovery/HAP’s Italian counterpart responded to the headmaster’s plea for help. Over a three-day period, all 236 children, ages 6 to 11, participated in a series of group EMDR therapy sessions specifically designed for children. According to parents and teachers, all but two of the students returned to normal immediately after the treatment (the two received further treatment).
“The teachers also related accounts from the parents, who reported a decrease in the stress symptoms that they observed for the previous 30 days. They also commented that they could finally confirm their holiday bookings because their children were no longer afraid to fly.”
I. Fernandez, Psychotramatology Research Center,
E. Gallinari, child Public Health Center, & A. Lorenzetti, Psychological Public Health Center
Report published in the Journal of Brief Therapy
We reached out to clinicians from Dunblane, Scotland, where 16 children and their teacher were shot dead at a primary school in March 1996. The clinicians went home to begin the process of healing for the young children who survived the shooting and the families of those who died, a process that endured long after the television cameras had left.
In Northern Ireland, we brought Protestant and Catholic clinicians together so that they might help break the cycle of violence fueled by decades of terror and religious conflict. Before the end of one workshop, a HAP clinician successfully defused one man’s violent reaction to a death threat from the Irish Republican Army.
In Bombay, India, a Trauma Recovery/HAP training mission initiated in 2000 established a community of EMDR-trained clinicians and launched a massive intervention project. Just weeks after the first training, a devastating 7.9 earthquake shook the western India region of Gujarat, killing 20,000 people, injuring 200,000, and impacting another 40 million. The newly trained clinicians immediately went to work treating the survivors with EMDR therapy, primarily with group protocols followed up with one-on-one sessions when needed. Recognizing the fact that post-traumatic symptoms often arise long after the event, a permanent trauma center has since been established in Bombay to continue to serve the population’s needs.
“The uniform experience of the entire [India] project team was that people reported a sense of peacefulness and lightness of mind [after EMDR therapy]. Teachers of most schools reported a vast improvement in attention and concentration, school attendance, scholastic performance, homework completion, crying spells, irritability and aggressiveness in the children after therapy.”
From the EMDR-HAP India Project Report
In 1999, two powerful earthquakes struck Turkey just months apart, leaving 25,000 people dead and 750,000 homeless. Trauma Recovery/HAP joined forces with the Turkish Psychologist’s Association, Istanbul Branch, to implement a series of trauma-therapy training programs and establish volunteer-staffed clinics at the vast tent cities where displaced families gathered in the aftermath of the tragedy. An estimated 12,000 people or more have been treated for trauma as a result of the Trauma Recovery/HAP presence in Turkey.
In early 2000, a group of Trauma Recovery/HAP members from Israel organized a humanitarian program of EMDR training for Palestinian psychotherapists. The underlying assumption at that time was that both Palestinians and Israelis — enemies or not — were suffering,and the need to stop the suffering should rise above politics. In one memorable instance, a Palestinian father of four underwent EMDR as part of a program there. When he began the session, he was filled with homicidal rage toward all Israelis. At the end of the session, he reported feeling “much better” and spoke these words: “You must always remember: Where there is life, there is hope.” In the 18 months since his session, this man has tirelessly worked to establish EMDR programs for children in West Bank refugee camps. He has given permission for his story to be told in order that others might also have hope.