Small victims of big disasters: Post-traumatic stress reactions and EMDR efficacy


The presentation describes post-traumatic stress reactions in children victims of mass disasters and the application of EMDR as an early trauma-focused treatment with them. Different kind of disasters (natural disasters, accidents and intentionally provoked) in the last years have involved specific populations of children in Italy and results from epidemiological studies and clinical interventions will be analyzed during the presentation. EMDR treatment was part of a comprehensive treatment with the population and was the elective treatment for the children of elementary schools which were the most exposed to the traumatic events. In most cases, 3 cycles of EMDR treatment were organized at one month, three months and a year from the critical events. Individual sessions were used for the school children due to the serious exposure to trauma and grief including: threat to life, loss of friends and sibling. Psychological support and EMDR treatment were provided to parents and school personnel and this aspect has been considered in the last interventions fundamental to enhance treatment results in children. Results of questionnaires and clinical interviews to assess post-traumatic symptomatology before and after treatment will be shown, along with follow up data. Treatment group show a significant improvement after EMDR treatment. Statistical analysis of results will be discussed. The author will highlight clinical aspects of using EMDR with children following recent trauma of great magnitude. Guidelines and indications for structured interventions coming from our field studies will be presented.






Isabel Fernandez

Original Work Citation

Fernandez, I. (2010, March). Small victims of big disasters: Post-traumatic stress reactions and EMDR efficacy. Keynote presented at the 8th EMDR Association UK & Ireland Annual Conference & AGM, Dublin, Ireland



“Small victims of big disasters: Post-traumatic stress reactions and EMDR efficacy,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 22, 2020,

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