EMDR working mechanisms research


It has repeatedly been shown that eye movements during retrieval of negative memories reduce their emotionality. In this presentation we will present a series of analogue studies (with undergraduate students) which further investigates the role of eye movements and other dual tasks.

Study 1 shows that the positive findings for eye movements could be replicated in subjects with negative memories of experiences of loss. This provides an empirical basis for the suggestion that EMDR can be used in the treatment of complicated grief.

Study 2 examined whether another secondary task that taxes working memory has beneficial effects, and whether the stronger the taxing, the stronger the reductions in vividness adversity.

Study 3 shows that eye movements do tax working memory but right-left auditory stimulation does not.

Study 4 compared eye movements (EM), auditory bilateral stimulation (ABS) and no stimulation. Results show EM do better (i.e, larger decreases in emotionality) than ABS and ABS do better than no stimulation.

Study 5 is a replication of study 4 in PTSS patients. EM will be compared to ABS and no stimulation. Data are expected to be available in June 2010.

Objective: Implications for a working-memory explanation of EMDR and for clinical practice will be discussed.






Hellen Hornsveld
Marcel A. van den Hout

Original Work Citation

Hornsveld, H. & van den Hout, M. A. (2010, June). EMDR working mechanisms research. In Research. Symposium conducted at the 11th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Hamburg, Germany



“EMDR working mechanisms research,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 20, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/19865.

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