Brief EMDR protocol versus bilateral stimulation in the treatment of spider phobia


EMDR, that includes bilateral stimulation, causes the desensitization and reprocessing of traumatic memories, thus reducing anxiety, distress, fear, and other symptoms related with several anxiety disorders. Previous results show it is effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD, panic disorder, public speaking anxiety, etc. Relying on some previous results we think that a brief EMDR protocol could be applied to relieve symptoms of specific phobias.

To investigate this issue, we study the efficacy of a new brief EMDR protocol in the treatment of spider phobia. Furthermore, our design tries to clarify the controversy about which components of the EMDR procedure are relevant for patient’s improvement. More specifically, we compare the effectiveness of our brief procedures with that of simple bilateral stimulation that is, without eye movements, which necessity to obtain therapeutic outcome has been questioned.

We randomly assign twenty volunteers, female university students with spider phobia to one of three groups. We applied the brief EMDR protocol to the first one and bilateral stimulation to the second one, being the third group the control one. To assess the effectiveness of both treatments, in addition to apply traditional questionnaires, we designed a specific emotional Stroop task in order to make use of this tool to evaluate, before and after each treatment, the selective attentional biases, that seem to play an important role in the etiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders. We discuss the differences found in our results in reference to the controversy aforementioned and how they can help to understand the EMDR mechanism of action.






Jaume Rossello-Mir
Xavier Revert-Vidal
Paola Obrador
Enric Cardell

Original Work Citation

Rossello-Mir, J., Revert-Vidal, X., Obrador, P., & Cardell, E. (2007, June). Brief EMDR protocol versus bilateral stimulation in the treatment of spider phobia. Presentation at the 8th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Paris, France



“Brief EMDR protocol versus bilateral stimulation in the treatment of spider phobia,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed January 20, 2022,

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