The authors of this study set out to look at whether trauma treatment had been successfully used with people with learning disabilities and substantially limited verbal capacities. They found no case studies in the literature. The article describes and assesses the applicability of eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) a trauma therapy based on the idea that eye movements can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts.
The authors worked with this therapy with two clients with moderate learning disabilities, serious behavioural problems, and histories of negative life events.
They applied the 8 phase protocol for EDMR which includes taking a client history, treatment planning, assessment of the target, desensitisation & reprogramming and re-evaluation.
They found that in both the cases, post traumatic stress disorder -like symptoms decreased. This was achieved in 6 sessions for the first person and 5 for the second.
These gains were reported to have been maintained in follow ups in 32 and 10 months.
The authors conclude from this very small scale case study that EMDR may be “an applicable psychological trauma treatment for persons with limited verbal capacities.”
Obviously as this is only case study evidence at this stage, the findings need to be treated with some caution and the authors themselves recommend further and rigorous research in to the therapy.
Do persons with intellectual disability and limited verbal capacities respond to trauma treatment? Mevissen L et al., in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 36, 4 , 278-283