Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro starting in 1988 in which the person being treated is asked to recall distressing images; the therapist then directs the patient in one type of bilateral stimulation, such as side-to-side eye movements or hand tapping. This is based on the idea that negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors are the result of unprocessed memories.
Does it Work?
- A 1998 meta-analysis found that EMDR was as effective as exposure therapy and SSRIs.
- Two meta-analyses in 2006 found EMDR to be at least equivalent in effect size to specific exposure therapies.
- Another 2009 review concluded EMDR to be of similar efficacy to other exposure therapies and more effective than SSRIs, problem-centered therapy, or "treatment as usual".
- A Cochrane systematic review comparing EMDR with other psychotherapies in the treatment of Chronic PTSD, found EMDR to be just as effective as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TFCBT) and more effective than the other non-TFCBT psychotherapies.
- A 2013 review examined 15 clinical trials of EMDR with and without the eye movements, finding that the effect size was larger when eye movements were used.
What else can it be used for?
- Depression - Studies have indicated EMDR effectiveness in depression. A 2019 review found that "Although the selected studies are different methodological critical issues, the findings reported by the different authors suggest that EMDR can be a useful treatment for depression.
- Anxiety related disorders - Small studies have found EMDR to be effective with anxiety disorders and distress
- Other studies have investigated EMDR therapy’s efficacy with borderline personality disorder and somatic disorders such as phantom limb pain.
- EMDR has also been found to improve stress management symptoms and reduce suicide ideation.
- Other studies focus on effectiveness in substance craving and pain management.
To learn more about EMDR and other techniques give us a call at 561-421-4104