A fork in the road, EMDR and scientific validation


Which practices can be combined with EMDR and which combinations should be avoided? And according to which criteria? This symposium hopes to introduce new ethical questions to the EMDR community, questions that may have repercussions for national and international recognition of EMDR therapy, the safety and well-being of patients, and the practioner's reputation and professional standing.

More and more EMDR practitioners seem tempted to combine EMDR with energy, spiritual, and metaphysical practices. Others defend and teach diagnoses that are not recognized by the ICD or DSM guidelines. When concern is expressed, typical responses claim that "EMDR was initially met with disbelief: who are we to reject something that has not yet been scientifically validated?", "As always in EMDR, we stay out the way and we respect our patients' beliefs", "I never know and I don't care whether my patients' memories are true"...

But is it ethical to use wording that may be interpreted as supporting metaphysical or energy or spiritual theories, practices, and techniques, while hiding behind the claim that we are not responsible for our patients' interpretation?

And what about the professional and ethical obligation of the mental health practitioner to offer to patients only techniques and approaches that have been validated scientifically or by professional peers, and that remain within the realm of the reserved professional field of practice of the therapist?


Jenny Ann Rydberg

Original Work Citation

Rydberg, J. A. (2016, June). A fork in the road, EMDR and scientific validation. Presentation at the at the 17th EMDR Europe Association Conference, The Hague



“A fork in the road, EMDR and scientific validation,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 15, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/23881.

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