Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in the treatment of chronic pain


Previous research has indicated that individuals with chronic pain who exhibit adaptive coping mechanisms are more likely to manage their pain effectively. If they experienced little success with pain management in the past, they are not likely to exhibit adaptive coping strategies in the present. However, there remains an important gap in the literature regarding the use of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) as a strategy for chronic pain. One purpose of this study was to establish the effectiveness of EMDR in the reduction of chronic pain; another was to examine the relationship between chronic pain intensity and emotion, as suggested by the biopsychosocial model of pain and measured by the Multiple Affect Adjective Checklist-Revised. In this matched 2-group design, participants were matched on pretest chronic pain scores and randomized to EMDR and a delayed treatment group. Pre- and posttreatment chronic pain levels were determined using the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire. Data were analyzed using paired samples t-tests. There was a significant reduction in chronic pain following six EMDR sessions for the participants in the experimental group and the delayed-treatment group. The results also indicated a reduction in dysphoria for both groups following EMDR. The findings may help to clarify whether EMDR is effective in alleviating chronic pain, which may lead to more satisfying lives for patients and their families. This study is an important contribution to the literature and enhances social change initiatives by showing that collaboration between EMDR and other types of treatment may offer more expedient and long-term relief to patients, thus affecting the costs (e.g., health insurance) associated with chronic pain.






Linda C. Estergard

Original Work Citation

Estergard, L. C. (2009). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in the treatment of chronic pain. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, Vol 69(11-B), 7135



“Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in the treatment of chronic pain,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 29, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/18820.

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