Images of healing: SPECT images of PTSD and recovery in police officers


The effects of “lethal contact” (i.e., close range firefights) in both the military and law enforcement populations can render long-standing psychological impairment. In this study we evaluated the effectiveness and physiological effects of EMDR in police officers involved with on-duty shootings who had delayed PTSD. Method: Six police officers involved with on-duty shootings and subsequent delayed-onset PTSD were evaluated with standard measures, the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale and high-resolution brain SPECT imaging, before and after treatment. Results: All police officers showed clinical improvement and marked reductions in the PDS (mean reduction from scores of 43.2 pre EMDR to 5.2 post EMDR). In addition, there were decreases in the left and right occipital lobe, left parietal lobe and right precentral frontal lobe, as well as significant increased perfusion (>0.001) in the left inferior frontal gyrus. Conclusions: In our study EMDR was an effective treatment for PTSD in this police officer group, showing both clinical and brain imaging changes. This multimedia presentation integrates selected case reviews including the dispatch recordings of the officer’s actual shooting incident/s, follow-up “check-in” messages documenting the officer’s reactions upon return to duty as well as pre- and post-treatment brain images. Brief selections of video also are used to further illustrate key principals. Clinical methodologies that were used with this group of subjects also will be discussed. Participant Alert: EMDR is a stepwise protocol designed to facilitate the reexperiencing of “trauma based” memories in order to assist the client in reformatting them into a non-disturbing / more “normalized” memory. During this protocol highly charged/upsetting images, feelings or experiences can arise for the client.






Karen Lansing

Original Work Citation

Lansing, K. (2004, November). Images of healing: SPECT images of PTSD and recovery in police officers. Preconference presentation at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies 20th Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA



“Images of healing: SPECT images of PTSD and recovery in police officers,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 26, 2021,

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