A Community of Heart Profile: Derek Farrell



Derek Farrell is an accomplished and principled man who has the capacity to fight when he needs to do so and to engage in diplomacy - which is his preference.

Derek's parents and role models, Maureen Fieldstead and Tom Farrell, met on the ballroom dance floor in Liverpool, England. His mother was a secondary school teacher of English Literature and his father was a tailor. Derek is their second of four children.

From his mother, Derek learned to appreciate the rewards and perils of principled action. Living in an area where the Catholic Church controlled the educational system, Mrs. Farrell tested the limits in her community by sending her 2 eldest children to a non-Catholic school. The price she paid was that she was black listed from teaching and was never able to obtain a secure job - only substitute work. Derek recognized the strength of his mother, but also learned firsthand how abusive the Catholic Church could be.

By contrast, his father was a diplomat and "the nicest person I ever met." He stayed quietly in the background as his wife made her point, then often, facilitated a resolution where there looked to be none. Derek has emulated his father's style and become a mediator himself. From age 14, he learned about the work ethic while working alongside his father on Saturdays at the tailor shop. He also learned about the power of faith through his father's lifelong devotion and recent recovery from radical surgery. Although the Farrell family was not wealthy financially, their love of life and sense of humor have created an important impact on their children.

Even with his mother's sacrifice, the state school Derek attended was poor. To compensate, he took up music, learning to play the clarinet and going on to play in a brass band and an orchestra that he continues to do today. He also taught himself to play piano and guitar.

Thinking he wanted to be a mental health nurse, he did a 3-year training program at West Cheshire Hospital where he learned that what he truly wanted was to be a psychologist. During that time, he set up a survivors' network for adult females as a result of sitting for 8 hours with a client who had set herself on fire. Because of his care and concern for her, she told him about her childhood abuse. To Derek's surprise, the psychiatrist involved was antagonistic and did not see the connection between her behavior and the abuse. Later, he created a network for male abuse survivors with the Bernardo Charity for Children in the 1990's. He completed his nursing training and took psychotherapy trainings in psychodynamic, humanistic and cognitive behavioral psychotherapies.

With his friend and colleague, Paul Keenan, he set up a psychotherapy department in the Department of Community Psychiatry in Mercyside for the National Health Service (NHS). In 1990, a client's narrative about her rape by a priest moved him and he began a life long interest in sexual abuse by clergy. In 1994, he was awarded an MA for Counseling Studies at Keele University and his thesis was on this subject. Later, during his Ph.D. work at Manchester Metropolitan University (2003), he did his dissertation on "Idiosyncratic Trauma Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Clergy" and he has written many articles on this topic. He raised the question "Why was sexual abuse by clergy different?" and found that the survivor's symptoms included spiritual, existential and theological domains. For instance, dying petrified his client, as she thought if her abuser repented what would god do? If god accepted him, the priest would be allowed into heaven and that would mean she was not safe because her perpetrator would be there. These were significant issues to address.

As a result of his expertise, he obtained medico-legal contracts across the UK with a leading Irish firm carrying out psychological assessments for survivors of sexual abuse by clergy utilizing self-designed psychometric measures established in his dissertation and specific to this type of trauma. Also, he created a Psychological Assessment and Treatment service on behalf of BUPA Occupational Healthcare, Manchester for railway personnel.

In 2000, he decided to end his National Health Service career as he could no longer tolerate the lack of support dealing with difficult cases, and he began his job at the University of Birmingham where he is a Lecturer in Health Sciences. Derek is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society and an Accredited Psychotherapist with the British Association of Cognitive & Behavioral Psychotherapies (BABCP). He is an External Examiner of Psychotherapy and Psychological programs for universities in the United Kingdom and has been successful in acquiring funding for his projects. From 2001-2004, he was a Consultant Psychotherapist with the Police Rehabilitation and Retraining Trust in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Before he began his doctoral work, Derek did his EMDR Basic Training in 1996, followed by Facilitator training. The effect of EMDR on his work was pivotal and he decided to develop EMDR training in the university. He created the first EMDR University Training in Europe validated by the University of Birmingham and EMDR Europe. He is now planning a new professional doctorate program that will include teaching and learning along with research and development and would include EMDR.

Since then, Derek has been a strong spokesperson for EMDR. He is President of the EMDR Europe Humanitarian Assistance Program, a member of the EMDR Europe Science and Research Committee, Co-Chair of the EMDR Europe Practice Sub-Committee and is a member of the EMDR Europe Board. He serves on the EMDR Asian Scientific Committee for EMDR Asia. He is a Past President of EMDR UK & Ireland, the Chair of EMDR UK & Ireland Accreditation Committee and the Chair Conference Organizing Committee for EMDR Europe's 2014 Edinburgh Conference, as he was for the 2008 London Conference. He is an EMDR Europe Approved Trainer and Consultant. Recently, the UK Ministry of Defense employed him to train mental health military personnel in EMDR.

Another seminal time in Derek's life occurred when he joined the EMDRHAP response to the Marmara Earthquake. In 1999, with many other EMDR professionals, he participated in training Turkish colleagues in EMDR. What he was not ready for was the effect of going into the refugee camps. He had never seen a camp before and the effect of seeing people who had been well to do in this awful situation, for example, where UN trucks would arrive with mattresses and people would fight over them was indelible. He also was affected by seeing the miles and miles of devastation. He believes that they all returned with PTSD yet no one spoke about it. This bothered him.

Derek has gone on to participate in projects in India, Pakistan and Bethlehem. The link between them is the overwhelming vastness of the trauma. The effect of talking to people from different perspectives was profound and Derek found it upsetting and hard to comprehend the senselessness of many of the man-made acts of war.

Derek has been involved in a long-term project in Pakistan developing mental health psychological services mainly around the intervention of EMDR. He has been there 14 times and has become acutely aware of the complexity of the nature of the problems there, as there was also domestic and military violence to attend to. Originally, in response to a Pakistani Psychiatrist in Ireland who appealed to Desmond Poole for help, he went to Abbotobad, a city closest to the epicenter of the earthquake. They raised funds through charity events to go on this trip. They trained 25 civilian and military psychiatrists and then did another round in Rawalpindi. After that the Pakistani Navy requested Karachi to train a group there where they were under a high alert and the danger was so real that it felt surreal. Derek found himself working with survivors of the earthquake, domestic violence, child abuse, acid attacks and, and people afraid of religious extremists and suicide bombers. In Karachi, there was a large influx of Pashutuns and they had a great deal of fear and trepidation because many younger people were being groomed by the Talibans. During training, Derek and his team worked with the military psychiatrists and their wives, many of whom were social workers, creating a greater insight into Pakistani culture and society.

Another of Derek's many passions is the training of EMDR practitioners. He has devoted a great deal of time in his work to evaluating the teaching and learning of EMR. He did a Q methodology to evaluate EMDR HAP Europe's Facilitator training in Pakistan and then went on to do the Delphi Study which is an exploration of the future research priorities needed in promoting the development of the teaching and learning of EMDR. Currently, he is the program Director of the MRes Health Research and EMDR in the management of psychological trauma module programs. In 2011, Dunne and Derek's article on "An Investigation into Clinicians' Experiences of Integrating EMDR into their Clinical Practice" appeared in the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research. If there is anyone who is going to come up with the best way to teach EMDR to his populations, Derek will be that person!

To the EMDR Community:

"EMDR does not cure Malaria and does not eradicate world poverty but what it can do is to make a significant difference in dealing with some of the world's problems. As a therapist, EMDR never ceases to amaze me. No other therapy comes close to touching it."

Derek is avid about triathalons, completing 3-4 a year. He loves to sail and play music. He recently celebrated 25 years of marriage and has a teenage daughter and son.

Derek Farrell brings his vision of EMDR to us through his work with clients, trainees, students and colleagues near and far. His dedication and commitment to his craft, as well as his expertise, are the hallmarks of his contributions to us all. His abilities as facilitator and diplomat are priceless.



“A Community of Heart Profile: Derek Farrell,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 26, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/7654.

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