Emdr: Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

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EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing

EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing


During the development phase of the process, the acronym "EMD" grew into EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), to keep in line with the descriptive rationale for its effects. It has now been promoted as a unique, fast-acting, and effective intervention method for treating a plethora of problems including, but not limited to, substance abuse, personality disorders, PTSD (Shapiro, 1989b), sexual dysfunction, dissociative disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, and morbid jealousy. EMDR has even been advocated for enhancing performance in athletes. Such claims have been partly responsible for the development of a growing rift within clinical psychology. Critics claim that the level and method of marketing EMDR has outstripped its evidence, and proponents claim that EMDR is being treated unfairly by the academic "fraternity" who expect a higher standard of evidence than would be accepted for other, more conventional treatments.

[Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)]

Whatever the truth, widespread and vigorous application of any therapeutic technique requires evidence that the procedure is not just more effective than a wait list condition, but that there are incremental effects over placebo treatments. It is also desirable that the mechanism responsible for improvement in patient functioning is isolated. Furthermore, evidence is needed that the intervention is at least effective as standard clinical care. It is the purpose of this article to address these issues.

In order to accomplish this goal, the treatment-outcome literature was critically reviewed, effect size estimates for completed studies were derived, and the results were integrated into an overall "state of affairs." In addition, a chronological review of EMDR research and of EMDR protocol development was conducted in order to provide the reader with an appreciation of why this area of research is so controversial. Past reviews of the EMDR literature have focused on methodological critiques of the EMDR research, efficacy of EMDR for specific conditions, specific and nonspecific factors involved in EMDR, and factors involved in the dissemination and promotion of EMDR (Herbert et al., 2000). However, this review adopts a chronological approach to the controversies concerning EMDR, providing a historical context upon which effectiveness and efficacy can be judged and a presentation of the methodological weaknesses in the research that have been addressed over time.

The Components of EMDR

As within any therapeutic framework, it is important to establish rapport with the client in order to engender trust and make it clear that one ...
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