Death by suicide continues to be a global public health concern with little research demonstrating the effectiveness of treatment options. This exploratory study exams the efficacy of Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy delivered to patients experiencing an acute mental health crisis to explore if by treating their background trauma, improvements could be seen in their general psychopathology and if there was a resulting decrease in their desire for suicide.


A practice-based service development project was conducted within a mental health hospital. A non-randomised, exploratory pre-test post-test design was utilised. Participants were identified from adult patients currently receiving care from either an inpatient mental health ward or the Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team (CRHTT). Those who had reported experiencing at least one event that they considered to be traumatic were offered EMDR Therapy. Notes from the electronic database were analysed to assess contact with services 12 months prior to treatment and following treatment.


72 patients were offered treatment in the study with 57 completing treatment. Patients made significant improvements across all the psychometrics, including a reduction in suicidal ideation. The majority needed less than 10 sessions and needed no onward referral for further psychological therapy. Cost savings were realised by retracting referrals for further therapy and in early discharge from CRHTT and acute wards, and by preventing admissions. Contact with services post treatment also reduced.


EMDR Therapy can be an effective treatment for patients experiencing a mental health crisis who have a trauma picture, resulting in significant improvements in their mental well-being and substantial cost savings for the National Health Service (NHS).


Proudlock, S., Peris, J, Using EMDR therapy with patients in an acute mental health crisis. BMC Psychiatry 2014 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-019-2426-7.

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