“Desensitization” Therapies Show Promise for Treating PTSD and Psychosis


Prolonged exposure (PE) therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy can help patients who have been diagnosed with having both psychotic disorders and PTSD, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry.

The team of researchers from the Netherlands stated that, normally, people with psychosis are excluded from PTSD studies, even though as many as 12.4% of people with psychosis also have PTSD.

In the study, 155 people with both PTSD and severe psychosis were recruited from 13 outpatient mental health services in the Netherlands, and were randomly assigned to receive either PE, EMDR or were wait-listed.

Medscape Medical News summarized that “those who received PE or EMDR for 8 weeks had a greater reduction in trauma symptoms and were more likely to achieve ‘loss of diagnosis’ compared with wait-listed participants. In addition, the PE group was more likely than the wait-listed group to gain full remission from PTSD.”

One of the authors told Medscape that, “We were surprised, however, how effective these treatments were — especially considering that most people in our study experienced severe childhood traumatization and were only given eight sessions of therapy.”

van den Berg DG, de Bont PM, van der Vleugel BM, and et al. “Prolonged Exposure vs Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing vs Waiting List for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Patients with a Psychotic Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA Psychiatry 72, no. 3 (March 1, 2015): 259–67. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.2637. (Abstract)

Desensitization Therapies for PTSD With Psychotic Disorder (Medscape Medical News, March 13, 2015)


  1. At Soldier Center (www.soldier-center.com) we utilize EMDR therapy in the treatment of both combat trauma and military sexual assault among military personnel and veterans. In addition to being effective, it has advantages over the other models of therapy. A grant allows us to provide EMDR therapy to OIF/OEF veterans without cost to them. Persons seeking additional information regarding effective treatment for PTSD can contact us through the website listed above. As a retired Army soldier (33 years) I am committed in providing effective treatment in a timely manner. Our veterans deserve no less.
    E. C. Hurley, PhD
    COL, USA (Ret)
    Founder/Director, Soldier Center

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