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EMDR treatment for PTSD and Intellectual Disability: a case study

Alastair L. Barrowcliff (Five Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Community Adult Learning Disability Service, Prescott, UK)
Gemma A. L Evans (Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to provide a detailed description of an adapted Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) intervention in the treatment of chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in an individual with moderate-severe Intellectual Disability (ID), blindness, and Mucopolysaccharidosis Hunters Syndrome.


A case study reporting on the implementation of an eight phase EMDR approach adapted for intellectual and sensory requirements. The intervention involved a series of preparatory meetings and four sessions of EMDR.


The intervention was successful in ameliorating most symptoms attributed to a PTSD presentation.

Research limitations/implications

The availability of the full breadth of treatment options for PTSD as indicated in National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (2005) is questionable in clinical practice with individuals with ID. Appropriate investment in research determining the most efficacious interventions for this clinical population is required.


This case study addresses issues of complexity in respect of the assessment and treatment of trauma in an ID population. It raises a number of important social/research questions in addition to providing a high level of detail in regard to the adaptations required to deliver EMDR for a complex individual whilst retaining fidelity to the standard treatment model.



Barrowcliff, A.L. and Evans, G.A.L. (2015), "EMDR treatment for PTSD and Intellectual Disability: a case study", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 90-98.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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