Editorial. Present and future of EMDR in clinical psychology and psychotherapy


Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an evidence-based psychotherapy which has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a first-choice treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (WHO, 2013). The new International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) guidelines (2018) rated EMDR as strongly recommended in the treatment of PTSD in children, adolescents and adults. These recommendations were based on high quality systematic reviews developed through Cochrane database, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and the aforementioned WHO recommendation, as well as on the results of randomized controlled trials. In the last decade, there has been increasing research into the efficacy of EMDR in other psychiatric and somatic disorders with comorbid psychological trauma (Valiente et al, 2017). EMDR is based on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, which posits that much of psychopathology is due to the maladaptive encoding of and/or incomplete processing of traumatic or disturbing adverse life experiences (Hase et al, 2017). Two recent articles have gone a step further and are highly relevant to the field. One, published in Nature by Baek et al (2019), reveals EMDR’s mechanism of action and neuroanatomical pathway using an animal model. The authors found that bilateral stimulation, as compared to controlled conditions, led to a clear and persistent decrease in fear behavior. Furthermore, the authors observed that bilateral stimulation increased neuronal activity in the superior colliculus and the mediodorsal thalamus, thus dampening the excitability of neurons in the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala. The other article is a review in Neuron about the encoding of aversive memory by Maddox et al (2019). The authors also discuss EMDR in detail as an effective psychotherapy for re-writing the engrams of traumatic memories, which represent the basis for the persistency of traumatic memories, following an encoding of the threat experience in the neural circuits. [Excerpt]






Gianluca Castelnuovo
Isabel Fernandez
Benedikt L. Amann

Original Work Citation

Castelnuovo, G., Fernandez, I., & Amann, B. L. (2019). Editorial. Present and future of EMDR in clinical psychology and psychotherapy. Frontiers in Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02185


“Editorial. Present and future of EMDR in clinical psychology and psychotherapy,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed August 1, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/26110.

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