Sequence matters: Combining prolonged exposure and EMDR therapy for PTSD
Investigating the influence of the sequence in which two evidence-based trauma-focused treatments are offered to PTSD-patients.
PTSD-patients were treated using an intensive eight-day treatment program, combining Prolonged Exposure (PE) and EMDR therapy. Forty-four patients received a PE session in the morning and an EMDR session in the afternoon, while 62 patients received the reversed sequence (EMDR followed by PE). Outcome measures were PTSD symptom severity and subjective experiences.
Patients who received PE first and EMDR second showed a significantly greater reduction in PTSD symptoms, patients preferred this sequence and valued the treatment sessions as significantly more helpful compared to patients in the EMDR-first condition.
Albeit explorative, PE and EMDR therapy can be successfully combined, but sequence matters. First applying PE sessions before EMDR sessions resulted in better treatment outcome, and better subjective patient's evaluations in terms of treatment helpfulness and preference.