WHAT ABOUT EMDR?
EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. EMDR employs side-to-side eye movements while asking the client to visually track the therapist’s finger across the visual field. While this is happening, the client reports the nature and emotional consequences of a traumatic experience. The client is also asked to generate a more positive appraisal about the trauma and their experience with it. Healing is said to occur after eye movements unlock the pathological condition (Shapiro, 1995).
EMDR certification is widespread across many therapists, and yet research support of its effectiveness has received considerable scrutiny. It is considered by many clinicians who are trained in evidence-based treatments for PTSD to be a novel, or pseudo treatment, aimed at appealing to a potential client’s interest as something new and different (Lohr, Hooke, Gist, & Tolin, 2003). Several independent studies have shown that eye movements, alternative stimulation, or cognitive reprocessing (all components of EMDR) are not necessary components of treatment (Boudewyns & Hyer, 1996; Boudewyns, Stwertka, Hyer, Albrecht & Sperr, 1993; Devilly, Spence & Rapee, 1998; Renfrey & Spates, 1994;. Instead, any measurable change following EMDR is most likely a function of imagery exposure, which is a major component of prolonged exposure therapy (Muris & Merckelbach, 1997).
The above-mentioned research findings form the basis for why BWC does not provide EMDR to our clients. Rather than unnecessarily subject our clients to a sequence of interventions that have been shown to be inefficacious, we commit to provide only the most effective treatment approaches of PTSD at BWC.
Boudewyns, P.A., & Hyer, L.A. (1996). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 3, 185-195.
Boudewyns, P.A., Stwertka, S.A., Hyer, L.A., Albrecht, J.W., & Sperr, E.V. (1993). Eye movement desensitization for PTSD of combat: A treatment outcome pilot study. Behavior Therapist, 16, 29-33.
Devilly, G.J., Spence, S., & Rapee, R. (1998). Statistical and reliable change with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Treating trauma within a veteran population. Behavior Therapy, 26, 435-455.
Lohr, J.M., Hooke, W., Gist, R., & Tolin, D.F. (2003). Novel and controversial treatments for trauma-related stress disorders. In S.O. Lillienfeld, S.J. Lynn, & J.M. Lohr (Eds.), Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology (pp.243-272), New York: Guilford Press.
Muris, P., & Merckelbach, H. (1997). Treating spider phobics with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: A controlled study. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 25, 39-50.
Renfrey, G., & Spates, C. (1994). Eye movement desensitization: A partial dismantling study. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 25, 231-239.
Shapiro, F. (1995). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Basic principles, protocols, and procedures. New York: Guilford Press.