Using EMDR to treat psychological trauma


This article discusses outcome studies on eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). It is noted that EMDR was originally designed for rapid treatment of traumatic memories, but practitioners have also applied it to such other problems as phobias, panic disorder, grief, chemical dependence, and dissociative disorders. Since the development of EMDR, numerous outcome reports in the form of case studies, single-subject experiments, and group design experiments have appeared in the literature. Several studies and meta-analyses of EMDR are described. While one meta-analysis concluded that the effects of EMDR are (a) not strong, (b) most apparent with self-report measures but absent with physiological indices of the disorder, and (c) absent altogether in some studies, other authors believe this is an overstatement. Two other meta-analyses note that there have been more controlled studies of EMDR than all other treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and both acknowledge a range in findings. It has been suggested that there are numerous explanations for negative or limited findings for EMDR, most notably the use of chronic, multiply traumatized veterans (where secondary gain may be a concern), lack of treatment fidelity, and insufficient length of treatment.







Original Work Citation

Staff. (1997, May). Using EMDR to treat psychological trauma. Clinician's Research Digest, 15(5), 3



“Using EMDR to treat psychological trauma,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed May 31, 2020,

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