The Effectiveness of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy to Treat Symptoms Following Trauma in Timor Leste

Sarah J. Schubert, Christopher W. Lee, Guilhermina de Araujo, Susan R. Butler, Graham Taylor, Peter D. Drummond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for treating trauma symptoms was examined in a postwar/conflict, developing nation, Timor Leste. Participants were 21 Timorese adults with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), assessed as those who scored ≥2 on the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ). Participants were treated with EMDR therapy. Depression and anxiety symptoms were assessed using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist. Symptom changes post-EMDR treatment were compared to a stabilization control intervention period in which participants served as their own waitlist control. Sessions were 60-90 mins. The average number of sessions was 4.15 (SD = 2.06). Despite difficulties providing treatment cross-culturally (i.e., language barriers), EMDR therapy was followed by significant and large reductions in trauma symptoms (Cohen's d = 2.48), depression (d = 2.09), and anxiety (d = 1.77). At posttreatment, 20 (95.2%) participants scored below the HTQ PTSD cutoff of 2. Reliable reductions in trauma symptoms were reported by 18 participants (85.7%) posttreatment and 16 (76.2%) at 3-month follow-up. Symptoms did not improve during the control period. Findings support the use of EMDR therapy for treatment of adults with PTSD in a cross-cultural, postwar/conflict setting, and suggest that structured trauma treatments can be applied in Timor Leste.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

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