Flash Technique in a Scalable Low-Intensity Group Intervention for COVID-19-Related Stress in Healthcare providers
The flash technique (FT) is a low-intensity individual or group intervention that appears to rapidly lessen the distress of disturbing and traumatic memories. This paper reports on the safety and effectiveness of group FT with 77 healthcare providers and 98 psychotherapists impacted by working with COVID-19 patients. One-hour webinars included 30 minutes of psychoeducation and two guided 15-minute FT interventions, focused on participants' most distressing pandemic-related memory. Before and after each 15-minute FT intervention, they rated that memory using the 11-point 0-to-10 subjective units of disturbance (SUD) scale. Results from both interventions were highly significant with large effect sizes (p < .001, Hedges' g = 2.01, Hedges' g = 2.39). No adverse reactions were reported. For 35 participants who processed the same memory in both interventions, the pre–post SUD scores from the beginning of intervention #1 to the end of intervention #2 showed a significant reduction with a large effect size (p < .001, Hedges' g = 3.80). For this group, both intervention #1 and intervention #2 showed significant reductions with large effect sizes (p < .001, Hedges' g = 2.00) (p < .001, Hedges' g = 1.18). Follow-up SUD scores were obtained from 58 participants, with the mean disturbance level showing a significant further decrease. These findings provide preliminary evidence that group FT appears to safely provide rapid relief from disturbing memories. FT merits further research.