Efficacy of EMDR therapy for anxiety disorders


Six randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigated the efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy for adults with anxiety disorders over a span of 20 years (1997–2017). Three RCTs focused on panic disorder, with or without agoraphobia (PDA); two studies targeted specific phobias, whereas the dependent variable of another RCT was “self-esteem,” considered as a mediator factor for anxiety disorders. In four RCTs, EMDR therapy demonstrated a positive effect on panic and phobic symptoms, whereas one RCT on PDA was partly negative and one study failed in improving selfesteem in patients with anxiety disorders. Considered as a whole, these preliminary data suggest EMDR therapy may be effective not only for PD but also for specific phobias. Further controlled studies are needed to corroborate these findings and also to systematically evaluate the efficacy of EMDR therapy for generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and agoraphobia. Because cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is presently considered a first-line treatment for anxiety disorders, controlled comparisons between EMDR therapy and CBT would be especially useful in future investigations of EMDR treatment of anxiety disorders.






Elisa Faretta
Mariella Dal Farra

Original Work Citation

Faretta, E., & Dal Farra, M. (2019). Efficacy of EMDR therapy for anxiety disorders.  Journal of Practice and Research, 13(4), 325-332. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.13.4.325



“Efficacy of EMDR therapy for anxiety disorders,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 28, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/26232.

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