EMDR treatment of migraine and chronic daily headache


The prevalence of chronic migraine headache in western societies ranges between 12-24% for women and 5-12% for men. In Turkey, about 21% of women and 11% of men suffer from migraine. It is one of the most disabling problems that a person can have.

Pharmacological treatment and behavioral interventions are the most widely used approaches for migraine. The term ‘chronic’ implies that the problem is not solvable. In this case it means that although pharmacological treatments and behavioral interventions meaningfully reduce the pain for some of the patients, there remains a population of headache sufferers who get large amounts of medicine, have to go to the emergency room frequently because of too much pain prolonged over many hours and at times days. Furthermore, some medications have moderate to severe adverse effects or contraindicate with clients’ existing conditions.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that was developed to reduce or eliminate the symptoms resulting from unresolved traumatic memories. Recently EMDR treatment has provided promising results in alleviating chronic pain and increasing sufferers’ psychological wellbeing. Research pointing out the neurobiological similarities found in patients who suffers PTSD and chronic pain, encouraged many clinician and researcher to explore the utilization of EMDR in the treatment of chronic pain.

We developed the EMDR Chronic Migraine Headache Protocol in order to obtain and maintain a high level of treatment fidelity and stick to scientific rigor and as a guide for future research. In collaboration with a public hospital in Turkey, we conducted a pilot study with chronic migraine patients diagnosed also as having chronic daily headache. The study continues with an enlarged sample and the present analyses revealed that there was a significant decrease in the frequency, the duration and the strength of the headaches of patients treated with the EMDR Chronic Headache Protocol. Besides, the number of the Emergency Care visits and the amount of medication taken were also decreased significantly in patients treated with EMDR.

Learning objectives: The major aim of this workshop, is to present to the participants, how to use The EMDR Chronic Headache Protocol in the treatment of patients diagnosed as having both Chronic Migraine and Chronic Daily Headache (CDH). Participants will gain detailed information about how to use EMDR Chronic Migraine Headache Protocol in emergency cases too. There will be DVD recordings of sessions demonstrating how to intervene a migraine attack during a session and also how the EMDR Chronic Headache Protocol is used for the treatment of chronic migraine headache.






Emre Konuk
Hejan Epozdemir

Original Work Citation

Konuk, E., & Epozdemir, H. (2011, June). EMDR treatment of migraine and chronic daily headache. Presentation at the 12th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Vienna, Austria



“EMDR treatment of migraine and chronic daily headache,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed May 11, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/20667.

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