An orienting response model of eye movement desensitization


Dyck's conditioning model of EMD provides a useful description of failure of habituation in PTSD, but may not account for some common EMD phenomena. An alternative model proposes that the therapist's waving hand -- in the presence of a trauma-related cortical set -- triggers an intense orienting response (OR). Intrinsic effects of the OR facilitate continuing attention to the memory without avoidance, and provide for effective input of new trauma-related information. The person's neuronal model of the trauma alters to reflect his survival and current safety -- as true outcome of the trauma -- and associated conditioned responses extinguish. Proposals for experimental evaluation of the model are described.






Michael S. Armstrong
Kevin Vaughan

Original Work Citation

Armstrong, M. S., & Vaughan, K. (1996, March). An orienting response model of eye movement desensitization. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 27(1), 21-32. doi:10.1016/0005-791(95)00056-9



“An orienting response model of eye movement desensitization,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 16, 2021,

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