Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing

A feasibility study of eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) in people with an at-risk mental state (ARMS) for psychosis

Eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective trauma-focused therapy which helps people process representations of traumatic life experiences.

The aim of this study is to establish whether it would be feasible to conduct a large multi-centre randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of EMDR to prevent the onset of psychosis in people with an at-risk mental state’ (ARMS).

We will recruit ARMS patients with a history of trauma, and randomly allocate them to EMDR or treatment as usual. Participants will be followed up for one year, and data on transition to psychosis, severity of symptoms, patients’ and therapists’ views of EMDR and participation experiences will be collected.

Why is this research important?

Psychotic illnesses are one of the leading causes of disability with more than 21 million people affected worldwide. These illnesses cause a huge burden on sufferers and their families. Various interventions have been employed for the prevention of psychosis but reliable recommendations are still missing. More than 80 per cent of the people at-risk of psychosis report traumatic events, especially during childhood. Studies suggest that memories of these events can lead to some people developing hallucinations and delusions.

No studies have yet investigated whether EMDR could prevent the onset of psychosis in people at-high risk. To investigate this, a large randomised-controlled trial is needed but first, we need to investigate whether such a trial would be feasible and acceptable to patients.

For further information about this study, please contact Daniela Strelchuk.