EMDR treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: Three cases


This article reports on the first 3 randomly allocated cases treated by the author in an ongoing trial comparing eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) with cognitive behavioral therapy (exposure and response prevention) in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder in a U.K. primary care setting. This article describes the treatment and data collection procedures, followed by a summary of each of the 3 cases supported by quantitative and qualitative data. The Adapted EMDR Phobia Protocol (Marr, 2012) was provided, following the trial protocol of 1-hour, 16-session treatment. The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale was administered at every 4th session. At posttreatment, 2 of the 3 cases showed more than a 50% reduction on validated psychometric measures, with symptoms below diagnostic cutoff. The final case started treatment below the diagnostic cutoff on the primary outcome measure and showed a slight improvement. Six-month follow-up data showed maintenance of treatment effects. Transcripts from a semistructured telephone interview carried out by an independent researcher following treatment were analyzed using a 6-stage thematic analysis method, which identified 3 themes: the role of traumatic experiences, role of shame, and importance of therapeutic alliance. This article concludes with a discussion of implications for EMDR practice and theory.






Zoe Marsden

Original Work Citation

Marsden, Z. (2016). EMDR treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: Three cases. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research,10(2). 91-103. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.10.2.91



“EMDR treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: Three cases,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed January 20, 2022, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/23840.

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