EMDR Beyond PTSD: A Systematic Literature Review

by Apr 25, 2020Research1 comment

Alicia Valiente-Gómez, Ana Moreno-Alcázar, Devi Treen5, Carlos Cedrón, Francesc Colom, Víctor Pérez, and Benedikt L. Amann

Important Note: This systematic literature review is not specifically misophonia or sensory processing disorder related. However, because a number of people have suggested that EMDR could potentially be used with misophonia, I thought it would be interesting to include it here.

It takes the sum of the findings on EMDR studies up to 2017 and draws conclusions based on this. As the review shows, there are mixed findings for in terms of the efficacy of EMDR therapy. However, it is early days and more tests need to be done. The report does conclude that “in general, EMDR therapy seems a safe intervention”. As such it would be interesting to see if it can be of benefit to people with misophonia.

Background:  “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapeutic approach that has demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through several randomized controlled trials (RCT). Solid evidence shows that traumatic events can contribute to the onset of severe mental disorders and can worsen their prognosis. The aim of this systematic review is to summarize the most important findings from RCT conducted in the treatment of comorbid traumatic events in psychosis, bipolar disorder, unipolar depression, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and chronic back pain.”

Conclusion: “In general terms, we can conclude that there is currently insufficient evidence to recommend EMDR therapy as a treatment of choice in psychotic disorders and, so far, the same occurs with bipolar disorders (Kim et al., 2010; de Bont et al., 2013; Novo et al., 2014; van den Berg et al., 2015; Van Minnen et al., 2016). However, a large trial is being currently conducted in order to reach more accurate conclusions (Moreno-Alcazar et al, 2017)…

In depressive disorders, one study demonstrated the effectiveness of EMDR therapy compared to psychodynamic psychotherapy, group therapy, and psychoeducation therapy (Hase et al., 2008). EMDR therapy improved memories of stressful life events at onset of depressive episodes, emotional cognitive processing and long-term memory conceptual organization (Hase et al., 2008)…

Within anxiety disorders, conflicting results were found in panic disorders with agoraphobia as it seems that EMDR therapy decreases severity of anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia but not panic attacks frequency and anxious cognitions… Authors recommended EMDR therapy as an effective alternative to treat panic disorder with agoraphobia when other evidence-based treatments, such as exposure therapy or cognitive-behavior therapy, had failed. Nevertheless, panic disorder studies were not able to demonstrate an effect of EMDR therapy on anxious cognitions, as you would expect to find after applying the therapy. In OCD or phobias studies we did not find this fact. Further larger trials are needed to answer whether or not EMDR therapy is a valid therapeutic option as first line treatment in anxiety disorders and OCD.

Evidence of RCT so far suggests that EMDR therapy is a useful tool in the treatment of specific phobias, like flight anxiety or dental phobia, whether or not related to PTSD symptoms (Doering et al., 2013; Triscari et al., 2015).

In general, EMDR therapy seems a safe intervention (Feske and Goldsteina, 1997; Hase et al., 2008, 2015; Doering et al., 2013; Novo et al., 2014; Perez-Dandieu and Tapia, 2014; Triscari et al., 2015; van den Berg et al., 2015; Gerhardt, 2016). This is of importance as it allows clinicians to consider EMDR therapy as an appropriate treatment in various psychiatric comorbid conditions without causing side effects.”

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1 Comment

  1. John Willis

    I have had EMDR for post-traumatic stress caused by a number of things it worked to a point but it didn’t really solve the problem just lessened it the problems still remain.


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