How to treat trauma in psychosis


Research shows that the majority of people with hallucinations or delusions have been the victimized during childhood. Experiencing childhood trauma triples the chance of psychosis in adulthood. Cognitive research shows that negative basic ideas about self and others are important mediators of the relationship between trauma and psychosis. Paranoia appears to be related to childhood interpersonal victimisation and emotional neglect and auditory verbal hallucinations are strongly linked to childhood sexual abuse.

EMDR can be used to desensitize traumatic experiences that keep intruding into awareness with strong negative emotional valence (first method) and to target experiences that have led to negative core beliefs about self and others (second method). We have developed a model for implementing the two method approach of EMDR in a broader cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis. The rationale of this model will be shown and conceptualizing EMDR for psychosis will be practiced. Clinical vignettes will be shown to illustrate EMDR for psychosis. 

Learning objectives:
Know that trauma influences psychotic symptoms, Understand how EMDR can influence paranoia and hallucinations, and Be able to conceptualize EMDR for these symptoms






David van der Berg
Berber van der Vleugel
Paul de Bont

Original Work Citation

van der Berg, D., van der Vleugel, B., & de Bont, P. (2013, June). How to treat trauma in psychosis. Presentation at the 14th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Geneva, Switzerland




“How to treat trauma in psychosis,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 14, 2021,

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