Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing clinicians' discourse on cultural dynamics in EMDR therapy


The following study looks at how Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) clinicians consider cultural dynamics within the EMDR treatment approach. A literature review provides the empirical foundation of EMDR treatment, a broad inquiry into general influences of cultural dynamics, and a review of the intersection of EMDR and culture in existing literature. In a mixed-methods approach, background information of EMDR clinicians and written responses to a composite case vignette allowed for the investigation into how 56 EMDR clinicians discuss cultural issues within their work. Participants were recruited via listservs maintained by EMDR communities in the United States, the United Kingdom & Ireland, and Israel. While a cluster analysis was able to create clusters emerging from participant data, these influences were minimal in the subsequent qualitative analyses. However, it is worth noting that the variables that emerged as important criteria for clusters included length of experience and national origin. Both are theoretically consistent with Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, which underlies the rationale of the study. In the qualitative component of data analysis, the researcher employed basic interpretive design and discourse analysis methodologies. Basic interpretive results found multiple approaches ranging from deeming culture a nonessential focus of the work to considering how certain identity markers may affect the course of information processing in treatment. When culture was considered, the focus was typically on the client’s background as opposed to the clinician’s background. Discourse analysis suggested a number of potentially meaningful linguistic patterns vi including shifts between Germanic and Latinate word origins depending on perceived audience, shifts between active and passive voice depending on temporal relation to the traumatic event, and the personification of the brain as an active character in the treatment process. As an exploratory study, considerable follow-up research would be needed before concrete suggestions are implemented though the potential implications for EMDR training might include a more intentional review of language use and the preparation of multiple styles of communicating to increase resonance with a client’s worldview.






Jeff DiNardo

Original Work Citation

DiNardo, J. (2018). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing clinicians' discourse on cultural dynamics in EMDR therapy. (Doctoral dissertation, George Washington University)



“Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing clinicians' discourse on cultural dynamics in EMDR therapy,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 29, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/25117.

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