UNITAR, in cooperation with EMDR Europe HAP and the NGO Forum for Health, is pleased to announce a program of lectures, discussion panels and individualized consultations on innovative trauma therapy in humanitarian, developmental and everyday settings. Representatives from three key groups (UN delegates, UN agency staff, and colleagues from the international humanitarian / development / health community in Geneva) are cordially invited.  Program details are available clicking here.


The impact of trauma, for human and world development as well as for world peace, can hardly be overestimated. Whether due to human-made or natural disasters (or even ‘normal’ distressing life events), current levels of trauma and the residual and often devastating effects of past traumas are staggering, easily running into the tens of millions of people. Effective large-scale trauma interventions, including innovative therapy approaches, could significantly help to alleviate the immense and insidious inner suffering. Such interventions could also increase social, economic and cultural productivity through enhanced individual growth, creativity and wellbeing. And they could also help interrupt the intergenerational transmission of violence and abuse.

Recent research has opened up important new, cost-effective possibilities in the field of trauma therapy, although these positive developments are not yet well known. EMDR, now also recognized by WHO, gives cause for optimism that evidence-based trauma treatment can be scaled up. For example, its rapid effectiveness is measured in hours and (consecutive) days, not weeks and months—a huge operational advantage in resource-poor conflict and disaster situations. EMDR is minimally intrusive and minimally dependent on verbalization of the trauma experience—two more plusses that help lower the access barrier to services and increase the cultural relevance for treatment. Finally, EMDR has good potential as a community-based primary care intervention using well-trained and well-supervised paraprofessionals, a comparative strength that makes greater outreach possible.

This special event will bring together speakers who are experts in mental health, development and humanitarian issues. They will present and discuss issues, innovations and their implications, highlighting the potential of using EMDR.  This event is of particular relevance now via its support of the WHO’s Global Mental Health Action Plan which calls for a scaling up of care for people experiencing adverse life events including trauma. The event is also a reflection of the current efforts to include a trauma target in the post-2015 MDGs.

WHO recommendation, case studies and testimonial:

  • “Individual or group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a trauma focus or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) should be considered for children, adolescents and adults with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD”).WHO 2013.
  • Following the Marmara earthquake in Turkey,“five 90-minute sessions was sufficient to eliminate symptoms in 92.7% of those treated, with reduction in symptoms in the remaining participants.”
  • “Three 90-minute sessions of EMDR eliminated post-traumatic stress disorder in 90% of rape victims.”
  • “In this study, the EMDR-IGTP was applied during three consecutive days to a group of 20 adults during ongoing geopolitical crisis in a Central American country in 2009. Changes on the IES [Impact of Event Scale]--were maintained at 14 weeks follow-up even though participants were still exposed to ongoing crisis.”
  • "EMDR assists survivors in the immediate aftermath of violent trauma by breaking through the walls of denial, shock, grief and anger…Ideal for those who have been unable to forget past traumatic life events, as it allows for a rapid processing of even deeply rooted memories, giving individuals control back of their lives and their emotions."
 Dusty Bowencamp, RN, 
Disaster Mental Health, American Red Cross.

Organizational sponsors

EMDR Europe HAP is a network of EMDR National organizations associated with almost 10,000 EMDR clinicians throughout Europe. The EMDR Europe HAP programs have been developed over many years in response to disasters and conflict situations. Current projects involve countries throughout Asia, Africa and within Europe itself. These projects provide training for mental health workers, EMDR psychological treatment for local populations and EMDR clinical supervision and consultation in support of the training participants—all on a pro bono basis.

NGO Forum for Health, a coalition of some 25 health-related organizations, is actively involved in promoting the right to health and quality health care for all people, including the integration of mental health and psychosocial support into global and national health priorities, and humanitarian and developmental efforts.

United Nations Institute for Training and Research(UNITAR) is a training arm of the United Nations System, reaching out to some 27,000 beneficiaries annually by conducting more than 400 capacity development and research activities around the world. The mission of UNITAR Is to deliver innovative training and conduct research on knowledge systems in order to develop capacities of its beneficiaries in the fields of Environment; Peace, Security and Diplomacy; and Governance, in line with its mandate of serving member states.


Space is limited, so please be sure to register early at the following registration link: http://www.unitar.org/event/node/126641. For more information, please contact Shahida Mohamed (shaahy@bluewin.ch) or Pilar Meza (pilarmeza@gmail.com). A member of our team will contact your organization to respond to any question you may have.