A Stage 1 Pilot Cohort Exploring the Use of EMDR Therapy as a Videoconference Psychotherapy During COVID-19 With Frontline Mental Health Workers: A Proof of Concept Study Utilising a Virtual Blind 2 Therapist Protocol

Derek Farrell*, Anastasiia Fadeeva, Zeynep Zat, Lorraine Knibbs, Paul A. Miller, Ian Barron, Helga Matthess, Cordula Matthess, Neta Gazit, Matthew D. Kiernan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the delivery of psychological treatment. Due to social distancing requirements, the provision moved to videoconferencing psychotherapy (VCP). There is a paucity of empirical data supporting the efficacy of EMDR therapy as a VCP. This stage 1 pilot study tested an EMDR therapy scripted protocol, such as Virtual Blind 2 Therapist (VB2Tr), on frontline mental health workers as a VCP regarding fitness for purpose, distinctiveness, relevance, and efficiency. Methods: A total of 24 participants were recruited for the study. The design included a one-session treatment intervention with pre, post, 1-month, and 6-month follow-up (FU) measurements. This treatment session used a “Blind 2 Therapist” EMDR therapy scripted protocol as videoconference psychotherapy that involves non-disclosure of traumatic memory. The research explored the treatment effect on the core characteristics of trauma memory, including subjective disturbance, belief systems, memory intensity (MI), vividness, and levels of emotionality. Additionally, the research explored participants’ experiences of adverse and benevolent childhood experiences (ACEs/BCEs) during their childhood. Results: Regarding the four tests, namely, fitness for purpose, distinctiveness, relevance, and efficiency, results are favourably suggesting potential clinical benefits of using EMDR as videoconference psychotherapy. Although this is a proof-of-concept study showing positive results, no clinical population or control group was used. The purpose of the study is to explore the potential for scalability toward a larger clinical trial. The treatment intervention was achieved irrespective of either ACEs/BCEs during childhood. Conclusion: The research tentatively supports the case for EMDR therapy as a credible treatment when used as video conference psychotherapy and in using the Blind 2 Therapist protocol. However, more research is needed to scale toward a clinical trial. Clinical Trial Registration: Clinical Trial Registration: https://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN12099530, identifier ISRCTN12099530.
Original languageEnglish
Article number901855
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume13
Early online date6 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jul 2022

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