Trauma focused treatment (EMDR) for parents of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and severe and persistent behavioural problems: a pilot study


Research shows that rates of cooccurring emotional and behavioural problems are high in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Parents of children with ASD often report higher levels of parental stress. Understanding parental stress is crucial because increased parental stress also effects the wellbeing of their child. The study by Stewart et al (2016) shows that a significant amount of mothers of children with ASD have experienced traumatic events related to their childs ASD and reported post-traumatic stress disorder (according to the criteria by DSM-5), related to the behavioural problems of their child. Parents with PTSD are more likely to have parental problems, such as being less emotional available and perceiving their child more negatively, associated with emotional and behavioural problems in their child (Van Ee et al., 2016), leading to a vicious circle of increasing child’s behavioural problems and increasing parental stress.
In the current single case study parents who have PTSD related to adverse events they have experienced while raising a child with ASD are treated with EMDR. This study focuses on the effects of parents treatment on their child with ASD. The first aim of this study is to investigate whether the level of parental stress decreases and the level of mentalization and reflecting abilities increases post-treatment. The second aim of the present study is to investigate whether family functioning improves after EMDR-therapy. The third aim was to investigate whether behavioural and emotional problems of the child with ASD will decrease after their parents EMDR-therapy. 



Elisa van Ee, RCSW Nijmegen
Liesbeth Mevissen

In kader van:
GZ psycholoog io tot specialist (GIOS)
Duur van het onderzoek:
juni 2021 tot december 2024
In uitvoering
Anne de Vries