Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (June 2012)|
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro that emphasizes disturbing memories as the cause of psychopathology and alleviates the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR is used for individuals who have experienced severe trauma that remains unresolved. According to Shapiro, when a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it may overwhelm normal cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms. The memory and associated stimuli are inadequately processed and stored in an isolated memory network. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reducing their lingering effects and allowing clients to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms. This is done in an eight-step protocol that includes having clients recall distressing images while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input, including side to side eye movements. The use of EMDR was originally developed to treat adults suffering from PTSD; however, it is also used to treat other conditions and children.
EMDR therapy was first developed by Francine Shapiro upon noticing that certain eye movements reduced the intensity of disturbing thought. She then conducted a scientific study with trauma victims in 1988 and the research was published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress in 1989 Shapiro noted that, when she was experiencing a disturbing thought, her eyes were involuntarily moving rapidly. She noticed further that, when she brought her eye movements under voluntary control while thinking a traumatic thought, anxiety was reduced. Shapiro developed EMDR therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder. She speculated that traumatic events "upset the excitatory/inhibitory balance in the brain, causing a pathological change in the neural elements." EMDR is now recommended as an effective treatment for trauma in the Practice Guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association, the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, SAMSHA, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the World Health Organization.
EMDR therapy uses a structured eight-phase approach to address the past, present, and future aspects of a traumatic or distressing memory. The therapy process and procedures are guided by the Adaptive Information Processing model.
Phase I History and Treatment Planning
- The therapist will conduct an initial evaluation of the client’s history and develop a general plan for treatment. This includes the problems which are the primary complaint of the client and a history of distressing memories which will become the targets for reprocessing.
Phase II Preparation
- The therapist helps the client develop ways to cope with distressing emotions so that they are able to calm down and help themselves in between therapy sessions. Commonly this is done with guided imagery or other relaxation techniques.
Phase III Assessment
- The therapist asks the client to visualize an image that represents the disturbing event. Along with it, the client will describe a thought or negative cognition (NC) associated with the image. The client will be asked to develop a positive cognition (PC) to be associated with the same image that is desired in place of the negative one. The client is asked how strongly he or she believes the PCs to be true using a 1-7 scale called the Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale. The client is also asked to identify what emotions he or she feels. The client is then asked to rate his or her level of distress on a scale from 0-10, with 0 being no distress and 10 being the most distress they can imagine. This is the same as a Subjectie Units of Distress scale (SUD) that is commonly used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Finally the client is asked to identify where in the body he or she is sensing the feelings.
Phase IV Desensitization
- During the reprocessing phases of EMDR, the client focuses on the disturbing memory in multiple brief sets of about 15–30 seconds. Simultaneously, the client focuses on the dual attention stimulus, which consists of focusing on the trauma while the clinician initiates lateral eye movement or another stimulus such as pulsars which are held in each hand or tapping on the knees.  Following each set, the client is asked what associative information was elicited during the procedure. This new material usually becomes the focus of the next set. This process of personal association is repeated many times during the session. This time, when the client is focused on the negative cognition as well as the disturbing image together, the therapist begins the bilateral stimulation. This process continues until the client no longer feels as distressed when thinking of the target memory.
Phase V Installation
- The therapist asks the client to focus on the PC developed in phase III. The client is asked to hold in mind the memory with the positive thought as the therapist continues with the bilateral stimulation. When the client feels he or she is certain the PC is fully believed and that belief is as strong as possible, the installation phase is complete.
Phase VI Body Scan
- At this phase the goal of the therapist is to identify any uncomfortable sensations that could be lingering in the body when the client is thinking about the target memory and the PC. While thinking about the event and the positive belief the client is asked to scan over his or her body entirely, searching for tension, tightness or other unusual physical sensation. Any negative sensations are targeted and then diminished, using the same bilateral stimulation technique from phases IV and V. The EMDR network has asserted that PCs should be incorporated physically as well as intellectually. Phase VI is complete when the client is able to think and speak about the event along with the PC without feeling any physical or emotional discomfort.
Phase VII Closure
- Naturally, not all traumatic events will be resolved completely within the timeframe allotted. In this case the therapist if the client is significantly distressed the therapist will guide the client through relaxation techniques that are designed to bring about emotional stability and tranquillity. The client will also be asked to use these same techniques for experiences that might arise in between sessions such as strong emotions, unwanted imagery, and negative thoughts. The client may be encouraged to keep a journal of these experiences, allowing for easy recall and processing during the next session.
Phase VIII Reevaluation
- With every new session, the therapist will reevaluate the work done in the prior session. The therapist will also assess how well the client managed on his or her own in between visits. At this point, the therapist will decide whether it is best to continue working on previous targets or continue to newer ones.
Empirical evidence and comparison
In a 2007 review of 33 randomised controlled trials of various psychological treatments for PTSD, EMDR was rated as an effective method, not significantly different in effect from Trauma-Focused CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) or SM (Stress Management) treatments. EMDR did significantly better than other therapies, according to patient self-reports. The International Society of Stress Studies practice guidelines categorized EMDR as an evidence-based level A treatment for PTSD in adults. Some international guidelines recommended EMDR - as well as CBT and exposure therapy - for treating trauma.
Research on the application of EMDR therapy continues, and several meta-analyses have been performed to further evaluate its efficacy in the treatment of PTSD. In one meta-analysis of PTSD, EMDR was reported to be as effective as exposure therapy and SSRIs. Two separate meta-analyses suggested that traditional exposure therapy and EMDR have equivalent effects both immediately after treatment and at follow-up. A 2007 meta-analysis of 38 randomized controlled trials for PTSD treatment suggested that the first-line psychological treatment for PTSD should be Trauma-Focused CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) or EMDR. A review of rape treatment outcomes concluded that EMDR had some efficacy. Another meta-analysis concluded that all "bona fide" treatments were equally effective, but there was some debate regarding the study's selection of which treatments were "bona fide". A comparative review concluded EMDR to be of similar efficacy to other exposure therapies and more effective than SSRIs, problem-centered therapy, or treatment as usual.
Although controlled research has concentrated on the application of EMDR to PTSD, a number of studies have investigated EMDR’s efficacy with other disorders, such as borderline personality disorder.
EMDR has been used effectively in the treatment of children who have experienced trauma and complex trauma, for instance child abuse. EMDR is often cited as a component in the treatment of complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
Controversy over mechanisms and effectiveness
EMDR has generated a great deal of controversy since its inception in 1989. Critics of EMDR argue that the eye movements do not play a central role, that the mechanisms of eye movements are speculative, and that the theory leading to the practice is not falsifiable and therefore not amenable to scientific inquiry. Shapiro has been criticised for repeatedly increasing the length and expense of training and certification, allegedly in response to the results of controlled trials that cast doubt on EMDR's efficacy.
Although one meta-analysis concluded that EMDR is not as effective, or as long lasting, as traditional exposure therapy, several other researchers using meta-analysis have found EMDR to be at least equivalent in effect size to specific exposure therapies.
An early critical review and meta-analysis that looked at the contribution of eye movement to treatment effectiveness in EMDR concluded that eye movement is not necessary to the treatment effect. Salkovskis (2002) reported that the eye movement is irrelevant, and that the effectiveness of the procedure is solely due to its having properties similar to cognitive behavioral therapies, such as desensitization and exposure. The working mechanisms that underlie the effectiveness of EMDR, and whether the eye movement component in EMDR contributes to its clinical effectiveness are still points of uncertainty and contentious debate.
A 2009 review of EMDR suggests that further research with different populations is needed.
- Shapiro, Francine; Laliotis, Deany (12 October 2010). "EMDR and the adaptive information processing model: Integrative treatment and case conceptualization". Clinical Social Work Journal 39 (2): 191–200. doi:10.1007/s10615-010-0300-7.
- "What is EMDR?". Retrieved 30 March 2013.
- Horton, Hilary (June 2011). "Dealing with self distress". Occupational Health 63 (6): 20–22.
- Feske, Ulrike (1998). "Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder". Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 5 (2): 171. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2850.1998.tb00142.x.
- Greyber, Laura; Catherine Dulmus; Maria Cristalli (17 June 2012). "Eye movement desensitization reprocessing, posttraumatic stress disorder, and trauma: A review of randomized controlled trials with children and adolescents". Child Adolescent Social Work Journal 29 (5): 409–425. doi:10.1007/s10560-012-0266-0.
- Glaser, Tom. "How was EMDR Developed?". Retrieved 8 March 2013.
- Shapiro, F (1989). "Efficacy of the eye movement desensitization procedure in the treatment of traumatic memories". Journal of Traumatic Stress 2 (2): 199–223. doi:10.1002/jts.2490020207.
- American Psychiatric Association (2004). Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines.
- Department of Veterans Affairs & Department of Defense (2010). VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Post-Traumatic Stress. Washington, DC: Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and Health Affairs, Department of Defense
- SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (2011)
- Foa, E.B., Keane, T.M., Friedman, M.J., & Cohen, J.A. (2009). Effective treatments for PTSD: Practice Guidelines of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies New York: Guilford Press.
- World Health Organization (2013). Guidelines for the management of conditions that are specifically related to stress. Geneva, WHO.
- Shapiro, F. (2001). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Basic principles, protocols and procedures (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press. http://www.emdrnetwork.org/description.html
- "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing for Adults (EMDR)". The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare. Retrieved March 2013.
- "EMDR Therapy". Anapsys. March 2013.
- Bednar, J. "Clearing the Block". Businesswest. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
- Shapiro, F (2012). "EMDR and early psychological intervention following trauma". Revue europeenne de psychologie appliquee 62 (4): 241. doi:10.1016/j.erap.2012.09.003.
- Bisson, J.; Andrew, M. (2007). Bisson, Jonathan, ed. "Psychological treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (3): CD003388. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003388.pub3. PMID 17636720.
- Foa EB; Keane TM; Friedman MJ (2009). "Effective treatments for PTST: Practice guidelines of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies". New York: Guilford Press.
- National Institute for Clinical Excellence (2005). "Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): The management of adults and children in primary and secondary care". London: NICE Guidelines.
- Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health. (2007). Australian guidelines for the treatment of adults with acute stress disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. Melbourne, Victoria: ACPTMH. ISBN 978-0-9752246-6-3.
- Dutch National Steering Committee Guidelines Mental Health and Care (2003). "Guidelines for the diagnosis treatment and management of adult clients with an anxiety disorder". Utrecht, Netherlands: The Dutch Institute for Healthcare Improvement (CBO).
- Van Etten, M. L.; Taylor, S. (1998). "Comparative efficacy of treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder: a meta-analysis". Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy 5 (3): 126–144. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-0879(199809)5:3<126::AID-CPP153>3.0.CO;2-H.
- Bradley, R.; Greene, J.; Russ, E.; Dutra, L.; Westen, D. (2005). "A multidimensional meta-analysis of psychotherapy for PTSD". The American Journal of Psychiatry 162 (2): 214–227. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.162.2.214. PMID 15677582.
- Seidler, G.; Wagner, F. (2006). "Comparing the efficacy of EMDR and trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of PTSD: a meta-analytic study". Psychological Medicine 36 (11): 1515–1522. doi:10.1017/S0033291706007963. PMID 16740177.
- Bisson, J. I.; Ehlers, A.; Matthews, R.; Pilling, S.; Richards, D.; Turner, S. (2007). "Psychological treatments for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder: Systematic review and meta-analysis". The British Journal of Psychiatry 190 (2): 97–104. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.106.021402. PMID 17267924.
- Vickerman, K. A.; Margolin, G. (2009). "Rape treatment outcome research: Empirical findings and state of the literature☆". Clinical Psychology Review 29 (5): 431–448. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2009.04.004. PMC 2773678. PMID 19442425. online
- Ehlers, A.; Bisson, J.; Clark, D.; Creamer, M.; Pilling, S.; Richards, D.; Schnurr, P.; Turner, S.; Yule, W. (2010). "Do all psychological treatments really work the same in posttraumatic stress disorder?". Clinical Psychology Review 30 (2): 269–276. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2009.12.001. PMC 2852651. PMID 20051310.
- Cloitre, M (2009). "Effective psychotherapies for posttraumatic stress disorder: a review and critique". CNS spectrums 14 (1 Suppl 1): 32–43. PMID 19169192.
- SUSAN BROWN, FRANCINE SHAPIRO (October 2006). "10.1177/1534650104271773 CLINICALCASE STUDIES/ October 2006 Brown, Shapiro / EMDR IN THE TREATMENT OF BPD EMDR in the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder". CLINICAL CASE STUDIES 5 (5): 403–420. doi:10.1177/1534650104271773.
- Foa B; Keane, T. M.; Friedman, M. J.; &Cohen, J. A. (Eds.) (2009). Effective treatments for PTSD: practice guidelines from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, 2nd Edition. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN 978-1-60623-001-5.
- Social work today: Treating Child Abuse Trauma With EMDR
- Adler-Tapia R; Settle C (2008). EMDR and The Art of Psychotherapy With Children. New York: Springer Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0-8261-1117-3.
- Scott CV; Briere J (2006). Principles of Trauma Therapy : A Guide to Symptoms, Evaluation, and Treatment. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications. p. 312. ISBN 0-7619-2921-5.
- Herbert, J.; Lilienfeld, S.; Lohr, J.; Montgomery, R.; O'Donohue, W.; Rosen, G.; Tolin, D. (2000). "Science and pseudoscience in the development of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: implications for clinical psychology". Clinical Psychology Review 20 (8): 945–971. doi:10.1016/S0272-7358(99)00017-3. PMID 11098395.
- "Eye Movement Magic: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing". Skeptic.com.
- Devilly GJ (2002). "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: A chronology of its development and scientific standing". Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice 1: 113–138.
- Benish, S.; Imel, Z.; Wampold, B. (2008). "The relative efficacy of bona fide psychotherapies for treating post-traumatic stress disorder: a meta-analysis of direct comparisons". Clinical Psychology Review 28 (5): 746–758. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2007.10.005. PMID 18055080.
- Davidson, PR; Parker, KC (2001). "Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): a meta-analysis". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 69 (2): 305–16. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.69.2.305. PMID 11393607.
- Cahill, S.; Carrigan, Maureen H; Frueh, B.Christopher (1999). "Does EMDR Work? And if so, Why? A Critical Review of Controlled Outcome and Dismantling Research". Journal of Anxiety Disorders 13: 5–1. doi:10.1016/S0887-6185(98)00039-5.
- Salkovskis, P (2002). "Review: eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is not better than exposure therapies for anxiety or trauma". Evidence-based mental health 5 (1): 13. doi:10.1136/ebmh.5.1.13. PMID 11915816.
- Kenneth Fletcher; Ricky Greenwald. "PRO and CON -- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing". Retrieved 2011-03-01
- R.H. Coetzee; Stephen Regel. "Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing: an update". Advances in Psychiatric Treatment 11: 347–354. doi:10.1192/apt.11.5.347.
- "Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing - EMDR". Retrieved 2011-03-01.
- Ponniah/Hollan, K/SD. "Empirically supported psychological treatments for adult acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder: a review.". John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved 20 September 2012.