Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) for DSM-5 posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults with intellectual disabilities: A case study review.

Peer-reviewed article
(2016 Nov) Psychol Trauma, 8 709-719


Jowett S, Karatzias T, Brown M, Grieve A, Paterson D, Walley R



People with intellectual disabilities may be at a greater risk for exposure to traumatic events and consequently develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an established treatment for PTSD in the general population, research on people with intellectual disabilities is limited. This review aims to critically appraise for the 1st time case studies published in this area, because no controlled investigations are available at present.


An in-depth literature review was conducted, and 6 case studies were identified from peer-reviewed journals describing EMDR therapy for psychological trauma in 14 adults with a mild to severe intellectual disability. These case studies were reviewed in terms of methods of assessing PTSD and trauma histories and delivery of EMDR therapy in order to establish the usefulness and acceptability of this intervention for people with intellectual disabilities.


All cases demonstrated improvement in symptoms following EMDR therapy, with around half of the cases stating no disturbance at posttreatment and at follow-up assessments. No adverse effects were reported, demonstrating that EMDR is well tolerated by people with intellectual disabilities.


EMDR is a safe and acceptable intervention for people with intellectual disabilities, and there is now sufficient evidence to conduct a randomized control trial to establish its effectiveness for DSM-5 PTSD in this population group. (PsycINFO Database Record