CBT vs. EMDR in the treatment of PTSD


Treatment Outcome Studies of PTSD: This symposium presents three large carefully controlled treatment outcome studies using four different treatment modalities (CBT, EMDR, psychopharmacology and Cognitive Processing) and presents data on comparative efficacy, treatment responsiveness and resistance, effects on comorbidity, quality of life, and biological changes that accompany symptom improvement. 

CBT vs. EMDR in the treatment of PTSD: 114 subjects were randomized into the study, but only 45 completed up to week 10. The subjects in the study comprise 45 sufferers of Post traumatic stress disorder as defined by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) (caps score > 50, and who satisfied criteria A,B,C and D for PTSD diagnosis) and the PCL-C (PCL-C>50). All subjects were victims of a traumatic experience and were recruited through newspaper or radio advertisements, referrals from private practitioners (18 subjects) or through the State Government Insurance Commission (SGIC) (27 subjects). Subjects were randomised into one of three treatments. Fourteen subjects received EMDR, 21 received CBT and 10 were control subjects. The mean age of the sample was 41.38 (SD=11.55) with the minimum age of 19 and the maximum age of 61. Sixteen of the subjects were male and 29 were female. During the treatment period 17 of the subjects were taking antidepressants and 6 were taking anxiolytics. Approximately half of the sample was married (22 subjects 48.9%), 12 had never married, 4 were separated, 1 was defacto and 6 were divorced. The mean number of treatment sessions for the entire sample was 8.53 (SD 1.65). Out of the 45 participants in the study, 26 had suffered only one single trauma in their lives, 11 had experienced several single traumas, 3 had suffered one ongoing trauma and 5 individuals had suffered at least one ongoing and one specific trauma. The following results were performed on the treatment groups (total 35 subjects), with the control group being excluded from all analyses. All subjects, were aged between 18 and 65, lived in metropolitan Adelaide and had an adequate command of English (reading and writing).All subjects gave informed consent to the study and expressed their willingness to comply with the protocol. Subjects with a history of adult seizure disorder, organic brain disease or who were assessed to be at significant suicide risk (a score of 3 or more on suicide question in HAM-D), were excluded from the study, as were subjects taking psychotropic drugs (anticonvulsive/ antipsychotic) or sedatives more than 4 times a week. All assessment and treatment sessions were conducted at the University of Adelaide Department of Psychiatry at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Assessment sessions were conducted by trained research assistants and all therapy sessions were conducted by a clinical psychologist, trained in both EMDR and CBT. Subjects were assessed for suitability to enter the study via an initial screening instrument (sent out to subjects in the post) and an initial screening interview. Patients were further evaluated at week 0 (baseline/immediately prior to commencement of treatment), 3, 4, 6, 8 10, 20 (10 week followup).






Alexander McFarlane

Original Work Citation

McFarlane, A. (2003, October-November). CBT vs. EMDR in the treatment of PTSD. In Treatment outcome studies of PTSD (B. A. van der Kolk, Chair). Symposium conducted at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 19th Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL



“CBT vs. EMDR in the treatment of PTSD,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 27, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/18976.

Output Formats