EMDR Research News July 2013

Here are this month’s recently published, peer-reviewed journal articles related to EMDR. Following June’s first month in memory with no new research articles -- and no blog entry -- this month there are four new articles.

First, there is an exciting controlled comparison investigating early, immediate (within 48 hours) EMDR treatment for victims of workplace violence compared with eclectic therapy. Second, there is a registry description of a planned Dutch study to examine random assignment to prolonged exposure, EMDR and waiting list for patients with a current diagnosis of psychosis and co morbid post traumatic stress disorder. Third, there is a preliminary set of two cases in which two veterans with chronic PTSD, received four weekly sessions of 3MDR therapy - combining virtual reality exposure with EMDR while on a treadmill. Finally there is a meta-analysis in
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reporting that effective psychotherapies with similar treatment effect sizes included cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, and EMDR and that effective pharmacotherapies, with much smaller treatment effect sizes, included paroxetine, sertraline, fluoxetine, risperidone, topiramate, and venlafaxine.

This month I feature a May 2013 video from KSTP TV Twin Cities with Elaine Wynne, EMDRIA Approved Consultant and two clients describing the benefits of EMDR therapy.

With each reference below, you will find the citation, abstract and author contact information (when available). Prior quarterly summaries of journal articles can be found on the
EMDRIA website and a comprehensive listing of all EMDR-related research is available at the Francine Shapiro Library. EMDRIA members can access recent Journal of EMDR Practice and Research articles in the member’s area on the EMDRIA website. JEMDR issues older than 12 months are available open access on IngentaConnect.

Video of the month

Elaine Wynne, EMDRIA Approved Consultant, and two clients interviewed on KSTP TV Twin Cities Channel 5 describe the benefits of EMDR therapy.

Journal Articles


Brennstuhl, M. J., Tarquinio, C., Strub, L., Montel, S., Rydberg, J. A., & Kapoula, Z. (2013). Benefits of immediate EMDR vs. Eclectic therapy intervention for victims of physical violence and accidents at the workplace: A pilot study.
Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 34(6), 425-34. doi:10.3109/01612840.2012.759633

Cyril Tarquinio, Université de Lorraine, Research Section APEMAC UE 4360, Psychological and Epidemiological Approaches to Chronic Diseases, Psychology of Health Team, Metz, France. E-mail: cyril.tarquinio@univ-lorraine.fr


This study focuses on 34 victims of aggression at the workplace, less than 48 hours following the incident of aggression. We compared victims who received an EMDR emergency protocol (URG-EMDR; n = 19) that we developed with those who received a method of intervention called eclectic therapy (n = 15). The results show that URG-EMDR therapy, provided within 48 hours, resulted in a greater decrease in perceived stress and a lower PCL-S score than eclectic therapy did. The scores were lower in both groups after 24 hours, and after 3 months, the drop was significantly greater among the victims treated with the URG-EMDR protocol; none of the EMDR-treated patients exhibited symptoms of posttraumatic stress.


de Bont, P. A., van den Berg, D. P., van der Vleugel, B. M., de Roos, C., Mulder, C. L., Becker, E. S., . . . van Minnen, A. (2013). A multi-site single blind clinical study to compare the effects of prolonged exposure, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and waiting list on patients with a current diagnosis of psychosis and co morbid post traumatic stress disorder: Study protocol for the randomized controlled trial treating trauma in psychosis.
Trials, 14, 151. doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-151

Paul Ajm de Bont, Mental Health Organization (MHO) GGZ Oost Brabant Land van Cuijk en Noord Limburg, Bilderbeekstraat 44, Boxmeer, 5831 CX, The Netherlands. E-mail: paj.de.bont@ggzoostbrabant.nl


BACKGROUND: Trauma contributes to psychosis and in psychotic disorders post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often a comorbid disorder. A problem is that PTSD is underdiagnosed and undertreated in people with psychotic disorders. This study's primary goal is to examine the efficacy and safety of prolonged exposure and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) for PTSD in patients with both psychotic disorders and PTSD, as compared to a waiting list. Secondly, the effects of both treatments are determined on (a) symptoms of psychosis, in particular verbal hallucinations, (b) depression and social performance, and (c) economic costs. Thirdly, goals concern links between trauma exposure and psychotic symptomatology and the prevalence of exposure to traumatic events, and of PTSD. Fourthly predictors, moderators, and mediators for treatment success will be explored. These include cognitions and experiences concerning treatment harm, credibility and burden in both participants and therapists.

METHODS/DESIGN: A short PTSD-screener assesses the possible presence of PTSD in adult patients (21- to 65- years old) with psychotic disorders, while the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale interview will be used for the diagnosis of current PTSD. The M.I.N.I. Plus interview will be used for diagnosing lifetime psychotic disorders and mood disorders with psychotic features. The purpose is to include consenting participants (N = 240) in a multi-site single blind randomized clinical trial. Patients will be allocated to one of three treatment conditions (N = 80 each): prolonged exposure or EMDR (both consisting of eight weekly sessions of 90 minutes each) or a six-month waiting list. All participants are subjected to blind assessments at pre-treatment, twomonths post treatment, and six monthspost treatment. In addition, participants in the experimental conditions will have assessments at mid treatment and at 12 months follow-up.

DISCUSSION: The results from the post treatment measurement can be considered strong empirical indicators of the safety and effectiveness of prolonged exposure and EMDR. The six-month and twelve-month follow-up data have the potential of reliably providing documentation of the long-term effects of both treatments on the various outcome variables. Data from pre-treatment and midtreatment can be used to reveal possible pathways of change.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Trial registration: ISRCTN79584912


Vermetten, E., Meijer, L., van der Wurff, P., & Mert, A. (2013). The effect of military motion-assisted memory desensitization and reprocessing treatment on the symptoms of combat-related post traumatic stress disorder: First preliminary results.
Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 191, 125-7.

Eric Vermetten, Military Mental Health - Research, Department of Defense, The Netherlands. E-mail: e.vermetten@umcutrecht.nl


Although the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the general and military population seem very similar, combat-related PTSD (cr-PTSD) is typically thought to be more severe due to the repeated and prolonged exposure of traumatic events. Therapeutic adherence is reported a problem in military populations compromising treatment efficacy. Therefore, a new potential supplementary treatment is specially designed for patients with cr-PTSD. This intervention is called Military Motion Memory Desensitization and Reprocessing (3MDR). The treatment incorporates key elements of successful treatments as Virtual Reality Exposure (VRE) and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and adds motion to the condition. We aimed at designing a treatment procedure that preserved dual task processing principle, yet introduced new engagement by performing the desensitization during motion by to walking on a treadmill. Moreover, we aimed at exposure to real high-affect pictures of deployment setting. Subjects walk a repetitive cycle while walking and viewing high affect pictures of deployment scenes. Dual task processing was maintained by an oscillating ball. Aspects of presence are adhered to, to maximize possible positive outcome.

METHOD: Two veterans with chronic PTSD, received four weekly sessions of 3MDR therapy. The indicator of effectiveness was difference in CAPS (Clinical Administrated PTSD Scale)-score. The treatment was designed on the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN) facility.

RESULTS: The 3MDR treatment did further decrease PTSD symptoms. Patients were highly satisfied about the treatment and had no attention to drop out.

CONCLUSION: The results of the two cases suggest that the 3MDR treatment is a successful, more additional treatment that goes further into the patients affect where other treatment may stagnate. The presence was highly appreciated. Further research with more patients needs to be performed to obtain more reliable results.


Watts, B. V., Schnurr, P. P., Mayo, L., Young-Xu, Y., Weeks, W. B., & Friedman, M. J. (2013). Meta-analysis of the efficacy of treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 74(6), e541-50. doi:10.4088/JCP.12r08225

Bradley V Watts, VAMC (11Q), 215 N Main St, White River Junction, VT 05009 E-mail: bradley.watts@va.gov.


OBJECTIVE: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an important mental health issue in terms of the number of people affected and the morbidity and functional impairment associated with the disorder. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of all treatments for PTSD.
DATA SOURCES: PubMed, MEDLINE, PILOTS, and PsycINFO databases were searched for randomized controlled clinical trials of any treatment for PTSD in adults published between January 1, 1980, and April 1, 2012, and written in the English language. The following search terms were used: post-traumatic stress disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD, combat disorders, and stress disorders, post-traumatic.
STUDY SELECTION: Articles selected were those in which all subjects were adults with a diagnosis of PTSD based on DSM criteria and a valid PTSD symptom measure was reported. Other study characteristics were systematically collected. The sample consisted of 137 treatment comparisons drawn from 112 studies.
RESULTS: Effective psychotherapies included cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (g = 1.63, 1.08, and 1.01, respectively). Effective pharmacotherapies included paroxetine, sertraline, fluoxetine, risperidone, topiramate, and venlafaxine (g = 0.74, 0.41, 0.43, 0.41, 1.20, and 0.48, respectively). For both psychotherapy and medication, studies with more women had larger effects and studies with more veterans had smaller effects. Psychotherapy studies with wait-list controls had larger effects than studies with active control comparisons.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that patients and providers have a variety of options for choosing an effective treatment for PTSD. Substantial differences in study design and study participant characteristics make identification of a single best treatment difficult. Not all medications or psychotherapies are effective.