The bumpy road of trauma-focused treatment: Posttraumatic stress disorder symptom exacerbation in people with psychosis

S.R. Burger*, A. Hardy, T. van der Linden, C. van Zelst, P.A.J. de Bont, B. van der Vleugel, A.B.P. Staring, C. de Roos, A. de Jongh, M. Marcelis, A. van Minnen, M. van der Gaag, D.P.G. van den Berg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Concern for symptom exacerbation and treatment drop-out is an important barrier to the implementation of trauma-focused therapy (TFT), especially in people with a psychotic disorder. This study, which was part of a multicenter randomized controlled trial, investigated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom exacerbation during eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and prolonged exposure (PE) in a sample of 99 participants with PTSD and psychosis. Symptom exacerbations during the first four sessions (early exacerbation) and between-session exacerbations over the course of therapy were monitored using the PTSD Symptom Scale-Self Report. Analyses of covariance and chi-square tests were conducted to investigate exacerbation rates and their associations with treatment response and drop-out. Both early exacerbation and between-session exacerbation were relatively common (32.3% and 46.5%, respectively) but were unrelated to poor treatment response or an increased likelihood of treatment drop-out. Both clinicians and patients need to be aware that symptom exacerbation during TFT is common and not related to poor outcomes. Symptom exacerbation can be part of the therapeutic process, should be acknowledged and guided, and should not be a barrier to the implementation of TFT in people with psychosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-309
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume36
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Keywords

  • EXPOSURE THERAPY
  • PROLONGED EXPOSURE
  • 1ST-EPISODE PSYCHOSIS
  • PTSD PATIENTS
  • WAITING-LIST
  • YOUNG-PEOPLE
  • PSYCHOTHERAPY
  • PERSPECTIVES
  • METAANALYSIS
  • SCALES

Cite this