This study evaluated the effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) treatment for children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared with untreated children in a waiting list control group (WLC) participating in a randomized controlled superiority trial (RCT).
A total of 33 6–16-year-old children with a DSM-IV diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were randomly assigned to eight weekly EMDR sessions or the WLC group. The Posttraumatic Stress Symptom Scale for Children (PTSS-C scale) was used in interviews with children to assess their symptoms and outcome. Post-treatment scores of the EMDR group were significantly lower than the WLC group, indicating improvement in total PTSS-C scores, PTSD-related symptom scale, and the subscales re-experiencing and avoidance among subjects in the EMDR group; untreated children improved as measured by the PTSD-non-related symptom scale. The improvement in re-experiencing symptoms proved to be the most significant between-group difference over time. The results of this exploratory study with a limited number of children with PTSD are encouraging and warrant further controlled studies of larger samples of children suffering from PTSD. (publisher abstract modified)