Saturday 28 June
Experiences of war and organised violence in combination with post-migration stressors leave asylum seekers and refugees in western countries at relatively high risk of developing PTSD. While evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of adults with chronic PTSD recommend that trauma-focused cognitive-behavioural therapy or EMDR should be offered to all patients with this disorder, with refugee patients the experience-based recommendation is often made that trauma-focused treatment should be preceded or even replaced by stabilisation. Trauma-focused therapy per se, especially for refugees living in unstable conditions, has been argued to be inappropriate and ineffective or to cause unmanageable distress. In order to determine the safety and efficacy of EMDR in traumatised refugees, we designed a trial in which seventy-two adult refugees suffering from chronic PTSD were randomly assigned to 12 hours (9 sessions) of EMDR or 12 hours (12 sessions) of stabilisation as usual. PTSD symptom severity, anxiety and depression, and quality of life were assessed before treatment, and two weeks and three months after treatment. Results of the trial are presented in this symposium.
Jackie June ter Heide (1972) read clinical psychology at Leiden University, the Netherlands, and systematic theology at the University of Cambridge, UK. She currently works as a clinical psychologist and researcher at Centrum ’45, a Dutch national centre for diagnostics and treatment of psycho-trauma symptoms resulting from persecution, war and violence. As part of her PhD she has conducted a randomised controlled trial to determine safety and efficacy of EMDR in asylum seekers and refugees suffering from chronic PTSD.