Building sustainable mental health services in war-torn and disaster-affected areas


The after effects of trauma can be transmitted across generations, resulting in ongoing cycles of violence and pain that affect individuals, families and societies. For those people and organizations working in countries in need of significant conflict prevention, mediation, reconstruction and reconciliation, these unprocessed memories can present a grave challenge. EMDR therapy is an empirically supported treatment for trauma. Since it does not demand a description of the event, it has proved successful in those cultures where self-disclosure is problematic. Since it does not need homework, it can also be implemented on consecutive days, making it amenable to the use of field teams after both natural and manmade disasters. Program evaluations have documented positive and rapid treatment effects using both individual and group protocols. The EMDR-Humanitarian Assistance Programs (HAP) is a global network of volunteer educator/clinicians working to prevent and/or remediate the psychological aftereffects of trauma. HAP projects worldwide have provided education about trauma and stabilization techniques, and taught local clinicians how to provide both individual and group treatment in war-torn and disaster-affected areas. The primary goal is to train clinicians to build sustainable mental health services that will meet not only immediate crisis needs, but also comprehensively serve future generations.






Francine Shapiro

Original Work Citation

Shapiro, F. (2012, November). Building sustainable mental health services in war-torn and disaster-affected areas. Presentation at the 28th Annual Meeting of the ISTSS, Los Angeles, CA




“Building sustainable mental health services in war-torn and disaster-affected areas,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 19, 2020,

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