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Visual communication desensitization (VCD©): a novel two-phased approach to interviewing traumatized individuals in investigative contexts

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Investigators are increasingly faced with the challenge of obtaining evidence from witnesses who are distressed or traumatized by war, genocide, human trafficking and/or sexual violence. However, interviewing best practice does not explicitly address interviewees’ psychological needs, and therapeutic approaches do not incorporate techniques to obtain accurate, detailed information. This article charts the development of the visual communication desensitization (VCD©) interview procedure, designed to secure accurate accounts rapidly while reducing distress. Originally developed to aid a traumatized victim of violent sexual assault who was unable to provide evidence in court, it comprises a two-part cognitive-behavioural approach to eliciting information from cooperative, traumatized witnesses, consisting of a ‘narrative-graph’ information-gathering component and a dovetailed therapeutic component. The laboratory findings and applied practice observations suggest that the VCD© interview procedure is beneficial for assisting traumatized interviewees in providing accounts, and thus could potentially support capacity-building in humanitarian response and international investigation contexts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatry, Psychology and Law
Early online date2 Jul 2018
Publication statusEarly online - 2 Jul 2018


  • Visual communication desensitization

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Psychiatry, Psychology and Law on 02/07/2018, available online:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 356 KB, PDF document

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