Treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) with EMDR


This presentation will focus on key factors believed to contribute to the development and maintenance of OCD: a damaged, diffuse sense of self; a perceived inadequacy to function, to meet the vicissitudes of life; and an elaborate defence system designed to offer the illusion of safety and control (avoidance of affect and action). Given the prominence of cognitive distortions and avoidance of affect in OCD, and the impact of EMDR on such phenomena as exhibited in the literature about EMDR treatment with PTSD, Whisman believes EMDR has the potential to be quite beneficial in the treatment of OCD. EMDR seems to allow the OCD client to hold a dual focus: the illusion of the disorder and the reality of the self; and to tolerate the affect accompanying this processing. Bridging past experience and present behavior, EMDR appears to allow new connections to be made that offer the client a distance form the disorder and a strengthening of the self. A model for educating the client about OCD will be presented a model whcih develops a "language" between therapist and client and bridges self and disorder; changes in the standard EMDR protocol will be presented and demonstrated via videotape; and EMDR components such as targeting, cognitive interweaves, and resource installation will be addressed. Clinical observation and client self-report are pointing to EMDR as an effective treatment component for OCD.






Marcia Whisman

Original Work Citation

Whisman, M. (2000, May). Treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) with EMDR. Presentation at the 1st EMDR Europe Association Conference, Utrecht, Netherlands



“Treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) with EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 21, 2020,

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