"Tower of hands" EMDR protocol for groups and family acute trauma recovery


The "Tower of hands" (TOH) is an EMDR-based emergency intervention practiced and clinically approved in the field for groups and families in acute traumatic situations. It consists a combination of the AIP model understanding, the ERP intervention and "safe-place/resource" protocol at the family, group and staff level for group recovery. The TOH aims at strengthening and restoring cohesion and group, family, staff and individual health. Modern warfare and global terrorism has brought trauma and acute trauma to our doorstep. Families and individuals exposed to severe and dramatic events and go through obstacles that are sometimes beyond their coping abilities. The result is, many times, a decrease in family or group/staff cohesion and thus less resiliency on the individual and group level. The same thing that kept the family or group healthy and safe is now lost, exactly at the time it is highly needed. Everyone who works in the field, have encountered many cases in which families, groups and teams undergo traumatic events together and lose the strength and cohesion of the group and the staff. The need arises to treat them together using the power of the group in order to enable them to return to normal group and personal functioning. The family or the entire group is hurt and the social structure undermined along with the security it represents. In this workshop, I will introduce a protocol for the group-family-community that have experienced acute traumatic events. Group intervention helps the group / family / team move from a situation where group "togetherness" is traumatic and problematic and each member of the group is a trigger for the traumatic event, to a state in which the cohesion and healing power of the group is re-established. The intervention is suitable for families, medical teams, emergency rescue teams and groups with close relationships who have experienced a traumatic event. This intervention used successfully for combat, accident and crisis situations, all with significant clinical results. Including reports of the use of the intervention as self-treatment by the group later on. The protocol based on an understanding of the initial functional and dysfunctional processing of memory according to the AIP model as well as the principle of intervention in times of crisis of the ERP protocol. The participants in the workshop will learn and practice:  Identifying group/family state after acute trauma  Collect crucial information for initial intervention  Come up with the needed group family intervention  Create the TOH for the group/family and support them  Re-build family/group resilience and cohesion The TOH protocol is unique in that it offers a tool for initial intervention at the individual and group levels. This whilst addressing and using the group power that is essential to a person in acute trauma situation. The protocol is innovative in that it uses both a group perspective of human connections between individuals within the group, as well as the understanding of the construction of traumatic memory and intervention in both personal memory and community-group-family memory. In addition, the TOH protocol provides a safe-to-use tool that produces primary and secondary prevention and can help reduce post-trauma for families and groups. Familiarity with this tool can help therapists work with a large audience during mass trauma events.






Tuly Flint

Original Work Citation

Flint, T. (2018, June). "Tower of hands" EMDR protocol for groups and family acute trauma recovery. Efficacy of EMDR in Emergency situations. Presentation at the at the 19th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Strasbourg, France



“"Tower of hands" EMDR protocol for groups and family acute trauma recovery,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 27, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/25167.

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