Trauma therapies for psychosis: A state-of-the-art review

Amy Hardy*, Nadine Keen, David van den Berg, Filippo Varese, Eleanor Longden, Thomas Ward, Rachel M. Brand

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Traumatic events, particularly childhood interpersonal victimisation, have been found to play a causal role in the occurrence of psychosis and shape the phenomenology of psychotic experiences. Higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related mental health problems are also found in people with psychosis diagnoses compared to the general population. It is, therefore, imperative that therapists are willing and able to address trauma and its consequences when supporting recovery from distressing psychosis. Method: This paper will support this need by providing a state-of-the-art overview of the safety, acceptability and effects of trauma therapies for psychosis. Results: We will first introduce how seminal cognitive-behavioural models of psychosis shed light on the mechanisms by which trauma may give rise to psychotic experiences, including a putative role for trauma-related emotions, beliefs and episodic memories. The initial application of prolonged exposure and eye movement and desensitation and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) for treating PTSD in psychosis will be described, followed by consideration of integrative approaches. These integrative approaches aim to address the impact of trauma on both post-traumatic stress symptoms and trauma-related psychosis. Integrative approaches include EMDR for psychosis (EMDRp) and trauma-focused Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for psychosis (tf-CBTp). Finally, emerging dialogic approaches for targeting trauma-related voice-hearing will be considered, demonstrating the potential value of adopting co-produced (Talking with Voices) and digitally augmented (AVATAR) therapies. Conclusion: We will conclude by reflecting on current issues in the area, and implications for research and clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • cognitive behaviour therapy
  • dialogical therapy
  • eye movement and desensitation and reprocessing
  • post-traumatic stress
  • psychosis
  • trauma
  • trauma therapy


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