REPORT: 4th EMDR Asia Conference 2020, Bangkok, Thailand

The 4th Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Asia Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2020 brought together professionals, researchers, and practitioners from around the world to explore advancements in EMDR therapy, share insights, and foster collaboration. The conference was attended by professionals, researchers, practitioners, and students interested in EMDR therapy. This report aims to provide an overview of the key highlights, themes, and outcomes of the conference.

Conference Overview:
Date: 3rd January – 5th January 2020
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Theme : Empowering EMDR Asia: Reaching the Unreached
Venue : Chulalongkorn Hospital
Address : Bhumi Siri Mangalanusorn Building, 12th and 13th Floors
1873 Ratchadamri Rd., Pathum Wan District, Bangkok, Zipcode: 10330, Thailand

EMDR Thailand Association
Address: 12th Floor, Phor Por Ror Building, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital
1873 Rama 4 Rd., Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Phone: +66 2 256 5242 or +66 2 256 5183

Key Themes and Topics Explored:
1. Advancements in EMDR Therapy: Presentations and workshops focused on the latest developments in EMDR therapy techniques, protocols, and applications.
2. Research and Evidence-Based Practice: Discussions on the empirical evidence supporting the efficacy of EMDR therapy across various populations and presenting new research findings.
3. Special Populations: Exploration of EMDR therapy applications for specific populations, such as children, refugees, veterans, and individuals with complex trauma.
4. Cultural Considerations: Examination of cultural factors influencing the implementation and effectiveness of EMDR therapy in diverse cultural contexts.
5. Integration with Other Modalities: Exploration of integrating EMDR therapy with other therapeutic modalities to enhance treatment outcomes.

Keynote Speakers and Presenters:
Renowned experts in the field of EMDR therapy delivered keynote addresses and presentations, sharing their insights and expertise.
1. Opening Address: Matthew Woo (President of EMDR Asia)

2. Welcome Address: Nawaporn Hirunviwatgul (President of Royal College of Psychiatrist of Thailand)
3. Keynote Address 1: Arne Hofmann “EMDR – A Successful Treatment for Depression”
(Chair: Tri Iswardani Sadatun)

4. Keynote Address 2: Carol Martin “Trauma Recovery Network”
(Chair: Sushma Mehrotra)

5. Keynote Address 3: Ute Sodemann “The Promotion of EMDR in SE Asia” (Chair: Ann Parichawan Chandarasiri)


6. Keynote Address 4: Tri Iswardani Sadatun “Future Direction of EMDR Asia for Collaboration, Challenges and Strategies to Reach the Trauma and Specific Population in Asia” (Chair: Matthew Woo)

7. Keynote Address 5: Sushma Mehrotra “Milestones and Sharing the Experience of Growth of EMDR in Asia” (Chair: Matthew Woo)

8. Keynote Address 6: Rosalie Thomas “A Tribute to Francine Shapiro” (Chair: Mrinalini Purandare)

Highlights and Outcomes:

• Networking Opportunities: The conference provided ample networking opportunities for attendees to connect with peers, exchange ideas, and establish collaborations.
• Skill-Building Workshops: Attendees had the opportunity to participate in skill-building workshops aimed at enhancing their proficiency in EMDR therapy techniques.
• Poster Presentations: Researchers and practitioners showcased their work through poster presentations, facilitating discussions and knowledge sharing.
• Continuing Education: The conference offered continuing education credits for professionals seeking to enhance their knowledge and skills in EMDR therapy.
• Cultural Exchange: The conference facilitated cultural exchange and learning opportunities, allowing attendees to gain insights into the cultural nuances of implementing EMDR therapy.

Pre-Conference Workshops

  1. EMDR Therapy for Borderline Personality Disorder

Presenter: Dolores Mosquera (Chair: Matthew Woo)

The workshop led by Dr. Dolores Mosquera explored using EMDR therapy to treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD is a complex disorder marked by intense emotions, impulsivity, and a fear of abandonment. Therapists working with BPD patients may experience strong emotional reactions themselves, and the workshop highlighted the importance of recognizing and managing these “affect phobias.”

The workshop used the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model to understand BPD and develop treatment plans. Participants learned how to adapt EMDR therapy for this population, connect a patient’s symptoms to their early childhood experiences, identify and address common defenses during therapy, and manage emotional intensity to stay within the patient’s tolerance for processing trauma.

  1. EMDR and Treatment Resistant Depression

Presenter: Arne Hofmann (Chair: Marid Kaewchinda)

EMDR therapy, known for treating PTSD, is being explored for depression. Studies have suggested that stressful life events can contribute to depression. The EMDR DeprEnd protocol was developed to address this by systematically targeting episode triggers, belief systems, and psychological states related to depression in patients. This protocol has been applied to over 500 patients and shows promise as a new tool for treating depression.

The workshop explored the EMDR-DeprEnd protocol, a specific approach within EMDR therapy designed to target the underlying causes of depression. This protocol focuses on identifying and processing early traumatic memories that may be contributing to the patient’s current depressive state. The workshop likely delved into the rationale behind EMDR-DeprEnd and showcased its potential effectiveness in addressing treatment-resistant depression. In the workshop protocol was introduced and partially trained for parts of it in small group exercises. Practical cases were presented and discussed.

  1. Psycho-traumatology and Stabilization Techniques

Presenter: Derek Farrell (Chair: Sombat Tapanya)

This workshop addressed the challenges of providing trauma-informed care, particularly in developing countries. It highlighted the increased risk of pronounced trauma symptoms in individuals experiencing repeated or chronic trauma.

The presentation explored six approaches to trauma treatment, including psychoeducation, EMDR group interventions, and building resilience. It emphasized the importance of client education (psychological first, second, and third aid) and utilized case studies from conflict zones and emerging economies to illustrate the need for accessible and effective mental health services.

  1. Complex Trauma, Attachment, and Dissociation: Treating Children with Emotion Dysregulation and Constriction Using EMDR Therapy

Presenter: Ana Gomez (Chair: Ann Parichawan Chandarasiri)


The workshop, led by Ana Gomez, focused on practical strategies for therapists treating children with complex trauma, attachment issues, and dissociation. The session emphasized keeping children within a manageable emotional state during therapy to optimize their ability to process trauma. Strategies for addressing various attachment styles (avoidant, disorganized, anxious) and dissociation were presented.

The workshop explored techniques that work with the body and subcortical brain regions, areas highly impacted by early trauma. The “Multifactor model of preparation” and “portals” for accessing traumatic memories in easily overwhelmed children were discussed. Additionally, “reparative interweaves” designed to heal attachment wounds and meet unmet emotional needs were addressed. Finally, the workshop explored using the EMDRSandtray protocol to access memories indirectly and facilitate processing within the child’s tolerance level.

  1. The Healing Space – From the Vulnerable Child to the Authentic Essence

Presenter: Brurit Laub (Chair: Tri Iswardani Sadatun)

Brurit Laub presented The Healing Space procedure, an EMDR technique inspired by the idea of integrating opposites (Yin-Yang) to achieve post-traumatic growth.

The workshop explored how therapists can use The Healing Space to help clients develop compassion for their “vulnerable child” – the part of them impacted by past trauma. By containing and accepting the child’s difficult emotions, clients begin a “dialectical movement” towards wholeness. This can lead to the emergence of their “authentic essence” – a deeper sense of self connected to others and the world. The workshop used video clips and paired practice to demonstrate how therapists can utilize The Healing Space during various stages of EMDR therapy, from preparation to processing and closure.

Other Workshops 

This conference offered a wide range of EMDR therapy workshops addressing diverse client populations and treatment approaches.

  • Treating Eating Disorders and Obesity: One workshop focused on using EMDR therapy to address the underlying trauma that may contribute to eating disorders and obesity.
  • The Power of Music and Lyrics: Another workshop explored using “resonant cognitive interweaves” which incorporate music and lyrics from songs to enhance healing.
  • Trauma-Informed Care: A mini-workshop addressed building trauma-informed organizations to better support clients.
  • EMDR for Children: Several workshops focused on using EMDR therapy with children, including integrating play therapy and addressing complex trauma.
  • EMDR and Technology: A workshop explored using virtual reality in the preparation phase of EMDR treatment.
  • Specialized Topics: Other workshops addressed specific populations such as victims of gender violence, dissociative disorders, and clients from conservative religious backgrounds.

Paper Presentations

The conference featured a wide range of research papers exploring various applications and outcomes of EMDR therapy. Here are some key areas of focus:

  • EMDR for Diverse Populations:
    • Papers examined the effectiveness of EMDR for children with school phobia, college students with depression and anxiety, and individuals with personality disorders.
    • Other presentations explored using EMDR to address trans-generational trauma, addiction recovery, and trauma in survivors of natural disasters and terrorism.
    • There were papers on using EMDR with specific populations such as Indian males, mothers and daughters with a history of trauma, and refugees.
  • EMDR Techniques:
    • A paper explored a group EMDR technique using the “flash technique” for parents of children with special needs.
    • Another paper investigated the role of understanding a client’s belief system in the treatment process.
  • EMDR and Specific Issues:
    • Papers addressed using EMDR for exam anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), vaginismus (difficulty with vaginal penetration), and work re-entry after harassment.
  • EMDR in Different Contexts:
    • Several papers explored using EMDR in developing countries and resource-scarce areas.
    • One presentation discussed promoting community-based trauma care in Myanmar.
  • EMDR Training and Implementation:
    • Papers discussed the challenges and successes of implementing EMDR training programs in humanitarian projects and resource-limited settings.
    • Another paper investigated mental health nurses’ willingness to pay for EMDR training.

Poster Presentations:
The conference featured a wide range of poster presentations highlighting various uses and considerations for EMDR therapy. Here’s a glimpse into some of the topics covered:

  • Expanding Applications:
    • Posters explored the use of EMDR for internet addiction, trauma in psychosis, and vicarious trauma experienced by helpers of abused children.
    • One presentation investigated the potential benefits of EMDR for school performance in students with a history of academic struggles.
  • Cultural Considerations: A poster discussed the need for adapting EMDR group protocols for children and adolescents in the Sri Lankan context.
  • Treatment Impact:
    • Several posters examined the effectiveness of EMDR for clients experiencing various traumas, including PTSD from terrorist attacks, complex trauma, and bereavement.
    • One presentation explored how EMDR can increase resilience in complex trauma patients.
  • Client Experiences: A poster examined the challenges clients face during EMDR therapy and their coping mechanisms.
  • EMDR Techniques: A poster investigated the “absorption technique” used in EMDR therapy. Another explored the impact of eye movements on memorizing threatening words.

The 4th EMDR Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, served as a platform for professionals, researchers, and practitioners to explore advancements in EMDR therapy, share best practices, and foster collaboration. The conference contributed to the ongoing evolution and dissemination of knowledge in the field of EMDR therapy, ultimately aiming to improve the lives of individuals affected by trauma worldwide.


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