Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: A multiple baseline study


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) was developed in 1987 by Francine Shapiro, as a modality for relieving anxiety, traumatic memories, intrusive thoughts, and reprocessing negative self-beliefs to positive self-beliefs. One of the most common uses of EMDR in recent years has been the treatment of PTSD.This current study investigated the effects of EMDR across a sample of 3 sexually abused women diagnosed with PTSD using a multiple baseline design across subjects. The study specifically focused on whether or not intervention with EMDR effects traumatic memory and negative/irrational cognitions, decreases stress or changes levels of anxiety, depression and heart rate. The study intended to assess the efficacy of EMDR while simultaneously reduce human suffering and answer some of the more serious criticisms which have blurred confidence in EMDR outcome research. Specifically, the study controlled for a number of the criticisms in the literature predominantly through a confirmation of an accurate PTSD diagnosis and through the use of a multiple baseline design. The multiple baseline design was applied sequentially to the same problem across different but matched subjects sharing the same environmental conditions. Heart rate level and well-known psychometrics were used to obtain baseline, intervention and post-intervention measures. Psychometric scores reflecting levels of depression, anxiety, and subjective levels of the impact of distress regarding the trauma were assessed along with the levels of anxiety currently experienced about the trauma and subjective ratings regarding the acceptance of the preferred, self-generated positive cognition. The measures used in this study were an initial clinical interview, an Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for the DSM-IV, Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Wolpe's Subjective Unit of Disturbance Scale, Validity of Cognition, Impact of Event Scale and heart rate. The study reported descriptive statistics to analyze the multiple baseline study and to determine EMDR's clinical significance in treating PTSD. The effects of EMDR on the three PTSD subjects of this study demonstrated that meaningful changes occurred in several areas. Subjective disturbance and stress surrounding the traumatic memory decreased, positive self-cognitions increased, and both depression and anxiety levels decreased following EMDR treatment. No change in heart rate physiology occurred. All of the study's treatment measures were maintained at follow-up. The results of this study suggest that EMDR may be a powerful and effective intervention to reduce patient suffering in a relatively painless fashion.






Robbi Schlaffman Zeper

Original Work Citation

Zeper, R. S. (1997, February). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: A multiple baseline study. (Docotoral dissertation, Union Institute)



“Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: A multiple baseline study,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed April 7, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/17560.

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