The effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy to treat symptoms following trauma in Timor Leste Academic Article uri icon

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.

publication date

  • 2016