Group EMDR Protocols: From Shared Trauma to Collective Recovery
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has grown significantly since its inception by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s. Initially designed as an individual therapy, practitioners quickly realized the potential of using EMDR in group settings, especially when dealing with mass traumas or shared traumatic experiences.
The main benefit of doing EMDR therapy in a group format is the ability to treat multiple people at the same time, providing a way to scale healing efforts to impact as many people as possible. With the ever-present need for mental health practitioners, especially in third-world countries where mass traumas often occur with limited humanitarian support. In addition, there is something powerful about healing within a group of people who share an experience and are able to provide a shared understanding and journey.
Over the years, several group EMDR protocols have been developed to address various needs. Let’s dive into some of the most recognized group EMDR protocols available today.
Recent Traumatic Episode Protocol (R-TEP) & Group Traumatic Episode Protocol (G-TEP)
These protocols were developed by Elan Shapiro and Brurit Laub and are aimed specifically at the processing of recent traumatic events. They provide an innovative, structured approach to address the traumatic experience before it becomes consolidated and possibly leading to more chronic PTSD symptoms. R-TEP is the protocol for individual therapy, while G-TEP is a further adaptation of R-TEP for group settings. Given the unfortunate frequency of mass traumas, G-TEP offers a way to provide early EMDR intervention to larger numbers of individuals simultaneously, fostering collective healing.
R-TEP and G-TEP are usually trained together during a full, two-day workshop. I used these often in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting to treat individuals and groups who were traumatized.
EMDR Integrative Group Treatment Protocol (EMDR-IGTP)
EMDR-IGTP, developed by Dr. Ignacio “Nacho” Jarero and his wife, Lucina “Lucy” Artigas, has been especially influential in dealing with large-scale traumatic events, like natural disasters or societal violence. The protocol came about following the devastation by Hurricane Paulina in Mexico in 1998 when the pair were called in to help with a school of children who were traumatized.
EMDR IGTP administers all eight phases of EMDR in a group format using art therapy and the butterfly hug where each person administers tactile bilateral stimulation (bilateral tapping) to reprocess traumaticmaterial. Since then EMDR-IGTP has been used in many humanitarian disasters and has been backed by robust research proving its effectiveness, particularly in these crisis situations.
EMDR Protocol for Recent Critical Incidents and Ongoing Traumatic Stress (EMDR-PRECI)
EMDR-PRECI, also developed by Jarero and Artigas, is a high-intensity treatment specially designed to treat recent, present, or past prolonged adverse experiences where related stressful events continue for an extended time, and there is no post-trauma safety period for traumatic memory consolidation. Without this period of calm and safety following an event, traumatic memories are unable to consolidate appropriately and this protocol is highly effective at addressing this.
Acute Stress Syndrome Stabilization Treatment (ASSYST)
Also developed by Jarero and Artigas, ASSYST is aimed at individuals experiencing acute stress reactions, a precursor to more severe post-traumatic stress. The protocol prioritizes stabilization, ensuring that individuals are grounded and less likely to be overwhelmed by the traumatic memory. The objective of this treatment intervention is to reduce the activation on the client’s autonomic nervous system by desensitizing the sensory, emotional, or physiological components of the traumatic memories. By addressing acute stress early, ASSYST can prevent the evolution of more complex trauma reactions.
The development of various group EMDR protocols provides unique approaches to treating and healing larger numbers of traumatized people with fewer clinicians. These are just some of the main group EMDR protocols in use today, however, there are others that are not as widely used or researched but are gaining in popularity. The landscape of trauma is vast and varied, and thankfully, so are the tools to address it.
Begin EMDR Group Therapy in Palm Beach County, FL
As research continues and the nuances of each protocol are better understood, the hope remains that more individuals can access the transformative healing potential of EMDR, whether in individual or group settings. Our team of therapists would be happy to offer support from Palm Beach County, FL, and across the state. You can start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:
Other Services Offered with Mangrove Therapy
EMDR therapy isn’t the only service offered by the team at Mangrove Therapy Group. Our therapists are experts in treating trauma and PTSD/C-PTSD, substance use disorders, eating disorders, body image issues, anger management, anxiety, low self-esteem, personality disorders, and much more. Please feel free to learn more about how we can support you. We also offer support with addictions such as process addictions, grief and loss, EMDR, “Failure to Launch” syndrome, CBT, and DBT. Feel free to learn more by visiting our blog or FAQ page to learn more today!