An exploratory study examining changes in traumatic memories of a single traumatic event over the course of treatment using EMDR
Objectives. Post traumatic stress disorder is characterised by intrusive memories of the traumatic event which consist of separate sensory fragments that results in high degrees of distress and the feeling that the event is recurring. One type of psychological intervention in the treatment of PTSD is eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). A number ofEMDR case studies have reported interesting qualitative changes to the form of traumatic memories during treatment. The aim of this exploratory study was to systematically examine changes in traumatic memories across sensory domains over the course of assessment and EMDR treatment, and to examine the relationships between subjective ratings of distress and vividness and symptoms of intrusion and avoidance. Method. Five research participants who met criteria for PTSD following a single traumatic event agreed to take part in the study. A multiple baseline single case design was implemented and repeated measures were taken between and within all sessions. The Impact of Events Scale (IES) was used between sessions as a measure of intrusive and avoidant symptoms ofPTSD, and the Traumatic Memory Rating Scale (TMRS) was used to measure within session changes on ratings of memory distress and vividness. The TMRS also included qualitative descriptions of changes to traumatic memories. Results. Strong positive correlations were found between TMRS ratings and the intrusion subscale of the IES. There was also a strong positive correlation between memory ratings of distress and vividness. As treatment progressed, significant negative trends across ratings on the TMRS were found. Finally, a variety of qualitative changes to traumatic memories were reported: the form and accessibility of traumatic memories, the awareness into consciousness of other sensory fragments related to the traumatic event, and the association of memories and issues relating to personal relationships. Conclusion. Changes to traumatic memories during EMDR is a common occurrence and is viewed as a sign of trauma processing. The relationship between vividness and distress is discussed and it is hypothesised that different treatments may used different pathways in their resolution of trauma information. The Accelerated Information Processing model is highlighted as a hypothesis for understanding associative links between trauma memories. Methodological weaknesses of this study and future research ideas are presented.
Original Work Citation
Ardeman, G. (2001). An exploratory study examining changes in traumatic memories of a single traumatic event over the course of treatment using EMDR. (Doctoral dissertation, University of East Anglia). Retrieved from http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?did=2&uin=uk.bl.ethos.246966
“An exploratory study examining changes in traumatic memories of a single traumatic event over the course of treatment using EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 24, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/17628.