Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for adults with intellectual disabilities: Process issues from an acceptability study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


BACKGROUND: Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is recommended for post-traumatic stress disorder and emerging evidence indicates that it is effective for people with intellectual disabilities. However, acceptability from the perspectives of clients with intellectual disabilities, their therapists and other key people has not been formally evaluated. This study investigates process issues in the implementation of EMDR from perspectives of multiple stakeholders.

METHOD: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with two adults with intellectual disabilities and three clinical psychologists who had participated in EMDR as well as a key supporter (N = 6) to provide information relating to three cases. The interviews were analysed thematically either directly from the audio recording or from transcripts.

RESULTS: Five themes were identified: EMDR feels very different; EMDR is a technical process; the need to work with the present; talking is important; cautious optimism.

CONCLUSIONS: Whilst a range of client- and therapist-related factors served as barriers to using EMDR in this small-scale study, such as preferences in working with the present and inexperienced therapists, there was cautious optimism that EMDR may be useful for "the right person at the right time.".


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-647
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, mental health problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, therapy, trauma