Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: An investigational study of the eye movement component using a within-subject design
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a recently developed psychotherapy treatment procedure which combines imaginal exposure with eye movements and is reported to dramatically reduce negative symptoms associated with trauma related psychological disturbances and memories. The author reviewed and analyzed the current literature regarding EMDR, and conducted a within-subject design investigating the importance of the eye movement component in the EMDR treatment protocol by comparing the efficacy of an eye movement treatment condition, with two non-eye movement treatment conditions. The use of two different control conditions allowed comparisons of the eye movement condition (EMDR), which involved bilateral stimulation of the brain, with exposure to memory of the trauma without eye movements (Eye-Focus Desensitization), which served as a placebo, and exposure to memory of the trauma with a competing motor activity (Single Hand Tapping), which represented unilateral stimulation of the brain. This study also employed a delayed treatment condition to investigate the overall effectiveness of EMDR in treating PTSD. The subject was a 53-year-old Caucasian female who met DSM-IV criteria for PTSD. Dependent variables included a diagnostic instrument, which was the Structured Interview for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (SI-PTSD); global instruments, which included the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), Impact of Events Scale (IES), and Subjective Units of Distress scale (SUDs); process measures, which included the Subjective Units of Distress scale (SUDs) and Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale; and a self-report measure of overall improvement, which was the Image Desensitization Rating Scale (IDRS).Results demonstrated support for the superiority of an eye movement condition over that of both a no-eye movement condition (EFD), and a competing motor activity of single hand tapping (SHT) on process variables (SUDs and VOC), but not on weekly global measures (IES, BAI, and SUDs) in the single subject studied. Also, this study found support for the effectiveness of EMDR (delayed treatment phase) in reducing symptoms of anxiety, intrusiveness and avoidance, and subjective distress related to memory of trauma as measured by BAI, IES, and SUDs, and also in alleviating DSM-IV symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder for this subject. Experimental single-subject studies, as well as group designs, need to investigate possible neurological and theoretical explanations for the effectiveness of EMDR in future research.
Original Work Citation
Coleman, G. L. (1999, October). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: An investigational study of the eye movement component using a within-subject design. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 60(4-B), 1846
“Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: An investigational study of the eye movement component using a within-subject design,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed January 15, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/17516.