University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Phase-based treatment versus immediate trauma-focused treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder due to childhood abuse: Randomised clinical trial

van Vliet, N.I., Huntjens, R.J.C., van Dijk, M.K., Bachrach, N., Meewisse, M.L. and de Jongh, Ad (2021) Phase-based treatment versus immediate trauma-focused treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder due to childhood abuse: Randomised clinical trial. BJPsych Open, 7 (6). ISSN 2056-4724

Text (Open Access article)
phase-based-treatment-versus-immediate-trauma-focused-treatment-for-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-due-to-childhood-abuse-randomised-clinical-trial.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (521kB) | Preview


It is unclear whether people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and symptoms of complex PTSD due to childhood abuse need a treatment approach different from approaches in the PTSD treatment guidelines.

To determine whether a phase-based approach is more effective than an immediate trauma-focused approach in people with childhood-trauma related PTSD (Netherlands Trial Registry no.: NTR5991).

Adults with PTSD following childhood abuse were randomly assigned to either a phase-based treatment condition (8 sessions of Skills Training in Affect and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR), followed by 16 sessions of eye-movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy; n = 57) or an immediately trauma-focused treatment condition (16 sessions of EMDR therapy; n = 64). Participants were assessed for symptoms of PTSD and complex PTSD, and other forms of psychopathology before, during and after treatment and at 3- and 6-month follow-ups.

Data were analysed with linear mixed models. No significant differences between the two treatments on any variable at post-treatment or follow-up were found. Post-treatment, 68.8% no longer met PTSD diagnostic criteria. Self-reported PTSD symptoms significantly decreased for both STAIR–EMDR therapy (d = 0.93) and EMDR therapy (d = 1.54) from pre- to post-treatment assessment, without significant difference between the two conditions. No differences in drop-out rates between the conditions were found (STAIR–EMDR 22.8% v. EMDR 17.2%). No study-related adverse events occurred.

This study provides compelling support for the use of EMDR therapy alone for the treatment of PTSD due to childhood abuse as opposed to needing any preparatory intervention.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Post-traumatic stress disorder, individual psychotherapy, cognitive–behavioural therapies, childhood experience, dissociative disorders
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
Related URLs:
Copyright Info: Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
Depositing User: Miranda Jones
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2021 15:42
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2021 15:02

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Worcester Research and Publications is powered by EPrints 3 which is developed by the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. More information and software credits.