The use of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) within a multi-modal treatment program for child victims of extrafamilial sexual abuse
Sexual abuse has created multiple short and long term problems for many individuals in society today. It often occurs in childhood and the scars that are left can be permanent. Statistically, it occurs with far greater frequency than should be tolerated. However, it is frequently unreported and can be difficult to detect in a child that experiences this form of trauma. There is a significant need to help these children that have been victims of this crime. Extrafamilial sexual abuse in particular appears to occur with greater frequency than intrafamilial sexual abuse. Studies show that it has lasting effects on children. Two of the most common and consistent symptoms seen with these children are PTSD and sexualized behavior. Other symptoms that have been found with these children include: depression, anxiety, fear, and difficulty managing anger.Although there have been many program designs implemented for child sexual abuse victims, most do not properly assess the level of improvement through objective measures that show that the treatment was responsible for the observed change and not some other variable. Many different forms of treatment have been used to treat sexual abuse victims, such as different forms of traditional individual therapies, family therapy, group therapy, drama therapy, and art therapy. One innovative psychotherapeutic technique that has been used recently with these types of clients and those who have experienced other types of traumatic events is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a relatively new form of treatment developed in 1987 by Francine Shapiro. There have been controlled research studies that have shown the efficacy of this technique. Although there are some researchers who are skeptical of the use of this technique and challenge its effectiveness, studies have nonetheless shown that it is an effective form of brief therapy with long-term effects. This proposed treatment program would be developed for children, aged 6-12 years, who have been victims of extrafamilial sexual abuse. It is designed to be short term, lasting 4 months, and EMDR will be utilized as the primary psychotherapeutic tool to assist the children in reprocessing their traumatic experience. Mental health services that would be provided include individual therapy consisting primarily of EMDR, group therapy for the child and the parents or caretakers provided separately, and family therapy that would include the parents, child, and siblings if deemed necessary. The children admitted to the program would meet criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD. They would also be given psychological measures in order to establish a baseline in terms of current symptoms such as depression and anxiety. The same measures would be administered again at the completion of treatment allowing for the measurement of any improvements. It is expected that children who complete the program would show a significant reduction or elimination of PTSD symptoms. This can be done more effectively by treating the family as a unit in dealing with such a traumatic experience. It is believed that this form of treatment would provide a valuable service to the community and further our understanding regarding the efficacy of EMDR.
Original Work Citation
Bermudez, J. S. (2002, January). The use of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) within a multi-modal treatment program for child victims of extrafamilial sexual abuse. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 63(6-B), 3000
“The use of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) within a multi-modal treatment program for child victims of extrafamilial sexual abuse,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed April 7, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/17446.