EMDR therapy in children and adolescents who have post-traumatic stress disorder: a six-week follow-up study

Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2020 Mar;24(1):77-82. doi: 10.1080/13651501.2019.1682171. Epub 2019 Oct 30.


Objectives: The purpose of this study is to explore whether eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective therapy and to investigate whether EMDR affects anxiety levels for children and adolescents.Methods: We conducted this study with 30 clients. The clients completed self-administered questionnaires Child Post-Traumatic Stress Reaction Index Scale and The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. The questionnaires were conducted before the therapy and 6 weeks after the completion of the therapy.Results: Nineteen clients (63%) had only one traumatic event, but 11 clients (37%) had more than one traumatic event. While the mean score on the PTSD symptom scale was 60 (±8.7), this rate decreased to 24 (±10.1), whereas the mean STAI-T scale was 59 (±8.9) before treatment and 41 (±11.5) after treatment. We found a statistically significant difference between symptom scores as quantified by both questionnaires before and after EMDR therapy (p < .05).Conclusions: As a result, we have shown that EMDR is an effective method for children and adolescents with PTSD in terms of both post-traumatic and anxiety symptom levels; however, we recommend a larger sample size with a control group to further establish the effectiveness of EMDR therapy in children.KEY POINTSPTSD is a common disorder in children and adolescents.Additional psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression are common in children and adolescents with PTSD.In PTSD cases applying for psychiatric treatment, trauma associated with sexual abuse is more pronounced and complex.EMDR is an effective therapy in children and adolescents as well as in adults.There is a statistically significant decrease at anxiety and PTSD symptom scores as quantified by questionnaires in patients with PTSD after EMDR therapy.

Keywords: EMDR; PTSD; adolescent; children; trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual
  • Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*