Better than nothing: EMDR for children and adults in remote areas


Many chronically traumatized children and families live in remote areas without access to specialized trauma treatment. Local practitioners need to be generalists and their isolated position often withholds them from taking the risk of opening up trauma. They do not want to wake up ‘sleeping dogs’. These children lack resources to travel for a lengthy specialized trauma-treatment but are too unstable for short-term treatment. Often their parents are traumatized too.

The Sleeping Dogs model combines attachment work and systemic interventions by local practitioners, teachers, school-psychologists, child protection workers, residential staff or foster-carers, supported and guided via phone or Skype with short-term trauma treatment. Three EMDR sessions for the children, and sometimes their parents too, are planned within one week. Because resources are so limited chronically children and adults use the available time well and therefore limited sessions are needed. If needed an additional week is planned. Following, the trauma therapist offers long-distance support to the local network to integrate changes and promote further strengthening of attachment relationships. This treatment is not perfect, but just good enough to help these children and adults to process some of their most disturbing traumatic memories. This presentation is illustrated with case examples from the treatment of chronically traumatized children and adults with generations of abuse in remote areas of Australia and Europe. Arianne will share her experiences as a ‘FIFO’ EMDR practitioner contracted by Child Protection, GP practices and Mental Health organizations in remote communities.






Arianne Struik

Original Work Citation

Struik, A. (2016, June). Better than nothing: EMDR for children and adults in remote areas. In Family track. Presentation at the at the 17th EMDR Europe Association Conference, The Hague



“Better than nothing: EMDR for children and adults in remote areas,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 19, 2021,

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