EMDR treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: Preliminary research


This article reports the results of two experiments, each investigating a different eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) protocol for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and each with two young adult male participants with long-standing unremitting OCD. Two adaptations of Shapiro’s (2001) phobia protocol were developed, based on the theoretical view that OCD is a self-perpetuating disorder, with OCD compulsions and obsessions and current triggers reinforcing and maintaining the disorder. Both adaptations begin by addressing current obsessions and compulsions, instead of working on past memories; one strategy delays the cognitive installation phase; the other uses mental video playback in the desensitization of triggers. The four participants received 14–16 one-hour sessions, with no assigned homework. They were assessed with the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), with scores at pretreatment in the extreme range (mean 5 35.3). Symptom improvement was reported by participants after 2 or 3 sessions. Scores at posttreatment were in the subclinical/mild range for all participants (mean 5 8.5). Follow-up assessments were conducted at 4–6 months, indicating maintenance of treatment effects (mean 5 7.5). Symptom reduction was 70.4% at posttreatment and 76.1% at follow-up for the Adapted EMDR Phobia Protocol and 81.4% at posttreatment and at follow-up for the Adapted EMDR Phobia Protocol with Video Playback. Theoretical implications are discussed, and future research is recommended.






John Marr

Original Work Citation

Marr, J. (2012). EMDR treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: Preliminary research. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 6(1), 2-15. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.6.1.2



“EMDR treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: Preliminary research,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed August 11, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/21280.

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