Trauma, psychosis and EMDR


The associations between trauma and psychosis are diverse and complex. The majority of people suffering from psychosis have been traumatized as a child and trauma appears to be an important causal factor in becoming psychotic later in life. About 35 percent of the people with psychosis suffer from a comorbid Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The psychotic experience itself and the sometimes horrific experiences in psychiatric treatment (e.g., solitary confinement) are traumatizing experiences for many patients. The presence of a comorbid PTSD leads to negative vicious cycles in which the patient can become stuck if effective treatment is not provided. Despite all this, comorbid PTSD is rarely diagnosed, and if so, application of EBP is not common practice.

Learning objectives: During this workshop these different interactions between trauma, psychosis and PTSD will shortly be discussed. Evidence from research and practice showing that trauma in psychosis can be treated effectively and safely, will be presented. Further, the workshop will focus on the practical application of EMDR within a general cognitive behavioural treatment plan for psychosis. Moreover, the following questions will be addressed. How is trauma history conceptualized within a case formulation? When can EMDR be used? And how can this be done? General problems one may encounter when using EMDR in patients with psychosis will be discussed.

Recommended reading before the workshop:

•W. Larkin and A. Morrison (eds.) Trauma and Psychosis: New directions for theory and therapy. 2006 London: Brunner-Routledge. After this workshop attendees will be aware of the great importance of assessing the life histories of patients with psychosis, how to incorporate this in a case formulation and how to use EMDR with these patients.






David van den Berg
Berber van der Vleugel

Original Work Citation

van den Berg, D., & van der Vleugel, B. (2011, June). Trauma, psychosis and EMDR. Presentation at the 12th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Vienna, Austria



“Trauma, psychosis and EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 14, 2021,

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