Integrated trauma treatment in drug court: Combining EMDR and seeking safety


Trauma histories with co-occurring Substance Use Disorder (SUD) are disproportionately prevalent for individuals in the criminal justice system. A study was implemented in the Thurston County Drug Court Program to determine the prevalence of trauma exposure and evaluate the feasibility of implementing an Integrated Trauma Treatment Program (ITTP) combining two empirically supported treatments: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Seeking Safety (SS). It was hypothesized that individual trauma treatment would lead to improved program outcomes, including increased graduation rates and lower recidivism. Two hundred nineteen males and females, ages 18-65 were screened. One hundred sixty one participants (73.5%) were eligible for the ITTP based on a self-report of at least one “criterion A” event in their lifetime. Fifty-eight participants (26.5%) did not report criterion A trauma and were assigned to program as usual (PAU). Participants who completed only the SS groups (N=50) graduated at a rate of 62% compared to 91.3% of those who completed both SS and EMDR (N=69). After implementation of the ITTP, recidivism for graduates was 7.4% and 18% for terminators, compared to 25% and 30.6% respectively prior to the ITTP. These outcomes provide preliminary evidence that individual trauma treatment can improve graduation rates and decrease recidivism in a Drug Court Program.






Susan H. Brown
Sara G. Gilman
Ellen G. Goodman
Robbie Adler-Tapia
Steve Freng

Original Work Citation

Brown, S. H., Gilman, S. G., Goodman, E. G., Adler-Tapia, R., & Freng, S. (2015). Integrated trauma treatment in drug court: Combining EMDR and seeking safety. Journal of EMDR Practice & Research, 9 (3), 123-136. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.9.3.123



“Integrated trauma treatment in drug court: Combining EMDR and seeking safety,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 19, 2021,

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