Evidence-based vs. good practice: The treatment of traumatized refugees with EMDR


Despite the scientific evidence concerning the efficacy of EMDR in the treatment of PTSD, in clinical practice many clinicians are reluctant to apply EMDR to traumatized asylum seekers and refugees. Because they regard the traumatization of this population as too complex, and for fear of psychological decompensation, they tend to avoid confrontation with traumatic memories and stick to stabilization techniques. In a pilot study with 20 traumatized asylum seekers and refugees, we tested the hypothesis that, in accordance with treatment guidelines, EMDR would be more effective than stabilization in asylum seekers and refugees. Adult asylum seekers and refugees who applied for treatment at Centrum ’45, a Dutch national centre for psychological treatment of victims of war and organized violence, were randomly allocated to either 11 sessions of EMDR or 11 sessions of stabilization. PTSD and comorbid symptomatology and quality of life were assessed at pre- and post-treatment and three-month follow-up. In this presentation, the results of this pilot RCT will be discussed. Significant differences favouring EMDR over stabilization were found. Despite several drawbacks including a high drop-out and limited clinical improvement, study design seems feasible with this population.






Jackie June ter Heide
Trudy Mooren
Rolf Kleber

Original Work Citation

ter Heide, J. J., Mooren, T., & Kleber, R. (2009, November). Evidence-based vs. good practice: The treatment of traumatized refugees with EMDR. In Advances in evidence-based treatment for PTSD (M. Olff, J. J. Ter Heide, M. J. Nijdam, & S. Guay, Chairs). Symposium conducted at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 25th Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA. doi:10.1037/e517292011-161



“Evidence-based vs. good practice: The treatment of traumatized refugees with EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 26, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/19495.

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