Child & murder - children after an extreme occurrence


Witnessing the murder of your parent – unthinkable, but it overcomes some children. Which response is to be expected? How will the child respond on EMDR-treatment? These and other questions are dealt with in this workshop. What if a child witnessed the murder of his parents? Is a child able to speak about it? What if the child doesn’t tell you anything – did it really see nothing? What if the child shares his experience with you – is this really helpful or will this be counterproductive? What if the child dares to confront itself with the recollection in therapy? At the moment itself or in the months following the murder, therapists are confronted with these and other questions. Feelings of intense anxiety and anger are in the way of sorrow and grief; recollections are so overwhelming that they can’t be shared; the life of the child is disorganised and there is often disturbed mourning. In the professional treatment of children who witnessed the murder of their parent the following issues are recognized: • disclosure and recognition, • the management of stress and intense emotions, • the development of psychopathology, • the impact on the family, • therapeutic interventions and treatment including EMDR on anxiety and rage, • and finally mourning. In the workshop 11 video clips of interviews of two 4- and 10-year-old children by a police officer directly after the murder and by a child and adolescent psychiatrist seeing the children for diagnosis and treatment at three months and three years after the murder will be shown. Theory and practice will be brought together and guidelines for treatment provided. In addition to the importance of disclosure, a therapeutic intervention in it’s own right, the impact of a single session of EMDR on the young boy is shown. Where the therapist focuses on the reduction of anxiety, the boy is much more concerned with establishing rapport with his mother. Several years later, rage is treated with the EMDR-rage protocol. Unexpected circumstances have to be dealt with emphasizing the importance of safety in the families of these children. New in this workshop is that two children who both witnessed the murder of their mother are followed over a period of 5 years. The children are following entire different trajectories towards recovery: one child comes to disclosure and can be treated with EMDR whereas the other is to anxious to disclose and will not receive EMDR treatment. Learning objectives: • To understand the emotional response with anxiety, anger and grief of children after intense trauma • To understand the medical interviewing techniques facilitating disclosure and emotional recognition and the therapeutic procedures and their impact on the child • To understand the key importance of mourning and how this is disturbed by the traumatic response






Alfons Crijnen

Original Work Citation

Crijnen, A. (2018, June). Child & murder - children after an extreme occurrence. In Different applications Of EMDR presentation at the 19th EMDR Europe Conference, Strasbourg, France



“Child & murder - children after an extreme occurrence,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 13, 2020,

Output Formats