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Nord J Psychiatry. 2004;58(3):199-203.

Treatment of traumatized refugee children with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing in a psychodynamic context.

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  • 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Uppsala University Hospital, Sweden.


This study examines the effects of a psychodynamic approach of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in treatment of traumatized refugee children. Among a child psychiatric outpatient refugee team, 13 children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), were treated by EMDR incorporated in a traditional psychodynamic therapeutic approach. The Posttraumatic Stress Symptom Scale for Children (PTSS-C) and the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) were administered before and after the treatment, to measure the effects. After treatment, a significant improvement was noticed in the functioning level and all PTSS-C scales, mostly in re-experiencing and least in the avoidance symptoms. The improvement in the functioning level was significantly correlated with the reduction of the PTSD-non-related and the depression, but not with that of the PTSD-related symptoms. Used in a psychodynamic context, EMDR is suggested to be effective treatment for traumatized refugee children. Our findings support the hypothesis of child-specific criteria for PTSD.

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