This paper aims to discuss the utility of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy as a treatment for children with intellectual disabilities (ID) who have experienced trauma.
Relevant National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance and literature were reviewed to provide support for the use of EMDR as a treatment for trauma in children with ID.
There is a growing body of evidence which demonstrates that EMDR therapy is successful for the treatment of trauma in adults and children. However, for children with ID, the research is limited despite those with ID being more likely than non-disabled peers to experience trauma such as abuse or neglect.
EMDR can only be facilitated by trained mental health nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists (clinical, forensic, counselling or educational) or occupational therapists or social workers with additional training. Finally, general practitioners who are experienced in psychotherapy or psychological trauma and have accreditation. Therefore, this highlights that there may be a lack of trained staff to facilitate this intervention and that those who are generally working with the client closely and long term such as learning disability nurses are not able to conduct this intervention.
This paper presents an account of NICE guidance and evidence of the efficacy of EMDR as a treatment for adults, children and those with ID.
Williamson, C.L. and Rayner-Smith, K. (2023), "Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing as a treatment for PTSD, trauma, and trauma related symptoms in children with intellectual disabilities: a general review", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/AMHID-02-2023-0005
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