Dealing with the aftermath of mass disasters: A field study on the application of EMDR Integrative Group Treatment Protocol with child victims of the 2016 Italy earthquakes

This study explored the effects of the EMDR Integrative Group Treatment Protocol (EMDR-IGTP) on child survivors of the earthquakes that struck Umbria, a region of central Italy, on August 24th and on October 26th 2016. Three hundred and and thirty-two children from the town of Norcia and nearby severely disrupted villages received 3 cycles of EMDR-IGTP. The Emotion Thermometers (ET-5) and the Children's Revised Impact of Event Scale (CRIES-13) were administered before (T0) and about one week after the conclusion of the third cycle (T3) of EMDR-IGTP. At T3, older children showed a reduction of distress and anger, whereas younger children reported an increase on these domains; moreover, older children reported a greater reduction of anxiety than younger ones. A greater reduction of distress, anxiety, and need for help was evidenced in females, whereas a greater improvement in depressive symptoms was evidenced in males. The effects of the EMDR28
IGTP treatment on post-traumatic symptoms were particularly evident in older children, compared to younger ones, and marginally greater in females than in males; moreover, a greater improvement was found in children who had received a timelier intervention, than in those who received delayed treatment. These results provide further evidence for the utility of EMDR-IGTP in dealing with the extensive need for mental health services in mass disaster contexts. Also, these data highlight the importance of providing EMDR-IGTP in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, to contribute significantly in restoring adaptive psychological functioning in children, especially in older ones.

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Trentini C
Lauriola M
Giuliani A
Maslovaric G
Tambelli R
Fernandez I
Pagani M
Frontiers Research Foundation, Switzerland
Frontiers in Psychology 9 (2018). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00862
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