EMDR in patients with psychotic disorders and PTSD: A pilot study


Introduction: Mueser at al. (2008) showed that a treatment program that was predominantly based on cognitive restructuring was effective and safe in treating PTSD in patients with Serious Mental Illness. However, only 15.7% of the participants in this study had a psychotic disorder. Frueh et al. (2009) conducted a pilot study into PTSD treatment in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders (n=20). At three month follow-up twelve out of thirteen completers no longer met criteria for PTSD. Treatment caused no adverse events. Unfortunately psychosis measures were not included in this study. A third therapy with strong empirical support for its efficacy in treating PTSD is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR, Bisson et al., 2007; Bradley, Greene, Russ, Dutra, & Westen, 2005; Seidler & Wagner, 2006). In this presentation the results of a feasibility trial (n=27) of EMDR in patients with psychosis and comorbid PTSD will be presented. Method: An open pilot trial of EMDR in treating PTSD symptoms in participants with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or an other psychotic disorder. Participants were all outpatients from community mental health centres in the Netherlands. After referral to the study patients were screened for PTSD with the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS, Blake et al., 1990). If PTSD was diagnosed baseline measurements were performed after which an informed consent was obtained. Treatment consisted of a maximum of six weekly EMDR sessions, after which post measurements were taken. Results: EMDR was effective in alleviating PTSD symptoms. Out of the 25 completers, only 7 still met criteria for PTSD at post measurement. Treatment did not result in adverse events. In fact, other symptoms, such as delusions, auditory verbal hallucinations, anxiety and depression decreased significantly, e.g. only four out of the nine participants that reported voices at baseline still reported voices at end of treatment. Conclusions: The preliminary conclusion is that treating PTSD in patients suffering from psychosis with EMDR is feasible, is safe and has a positive influence on other symptoms.






David P. G. van den Berg

Original Work Citation

van den Berg, D. P. G. (2011, August-September). EMDR in patients with psychotic disorders and PTSD: A pilot study. In PTSD in patients with psychotic disorders. Symposium conducted at the 41st EABCT Annual Congress, Reykjavk, Iceland



“EMDR in patients with psychotic disorders and PTSD: A pilot study,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed May 28, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/21924.

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