Is EMDR more effective than wait list control and treatment as usual with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms?


The goal of my thesis was to replicate Chen et al. (2014) and to extend the study by comparing Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to Wait List Control (WLC) and Treatment as Usual (TAU) conditions. Effect size estimations for reduction in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptomatology was used to compare the effectiveness of the treatment and comparison conditions. A total of 34 studies were included in this meta-analysis. These studies included at least a PTSD outcome measure along with other outcome measures (i.e., depression outcome measures, anxiety outcome measures, or subjective distress outcome measures). Relevant time point posttest means and standard deviations were used to calculate Hedges’s g using a random effects model. Favorable results were interpreted as a decrease in PTSD symptomatology. Significant results were reported for EMDR versus WLC on PTSD outcomes and EMDR versus TAU on PTSD outcomes. Both hypotheses were supported as EMDR was more effective at reducing PTSD symptomatology than both WLC and TAU. Limitations of this study included variations in the outcome measures in the 26 studies from Chen et al. (2014) and variations in effect size calculations because not every study reported means and standard deviations. The results of this study should not be generalized beyond the populations included in the selected studies in randomized controlled trial settings. Future research should focus on the efficacy of EMDR versus individual empirically-supported therapies, the effectiveness of EMDR with certain age groups, and the dose-response effectiveness of EMDR with different numbers of treatment sessions.






Joe Denniston

Original Work Citation


“Is EMDR more effective than wait list control and treatment as usual with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms?,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 27, 2021,

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