Efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing:  Implications for behavior therapy


The commitment of behavior therapy to empiricism has led it to a prominent position in the development of validated methods of treatment. The recent development and rapid expansion of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a treatment that bears a resemblance to behavioral techniques and that has been proposed as an alternative to such techniques for numerous psychological disorders, raises important questions for the field of behavior therapy. In this article, we examine 17 recent studies on the effectiveness of EMDR and the conceptual analysis of its mechanisms of action. The research we review shows that (a) the effects of EMDR are limited largely or entirely to verbal report indices, (b) eye movements appear to be unnecessary for improvement, and (c) reported effects are consistent with non-specific procedural artifacts. Moreover, the conceptual analysis of EMDR is inconsistent with scientific findings concerning the role of eye movements. Implications of the empirical and theoretical literature on EMDR for behavior therapy are discussed.






Jeffery M. Lohr
David F. Tolin
Scott O. Lilienfeld

Original Work Citation

Lohr, J. M., Tolin, D. F., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (1998, Winter). Efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Implications for behavior therapy. Behavior Therapy, 29(1), 123-156. doi:10.1016/S0005-7894(98)80035-X



“Efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing:  Implications for behavior therapy,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 16, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/15380.

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