EMDR Research News March 2015

This month there are 6 new articles directly related to EMDR therapy plus a related article on Breathing biofeedback as an adjunct to TF-CBT. There are 5 articles and 8 book reviews from the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research. One article this month is available with an open access link for immediate download.

book of the month features the recently released book from Bessel van der Kolk M.D. - The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.

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.


Book of the month

The Body Keeps the Score
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. is currently available in hardcover and kindle editions. The softcover edition will be released in September 2014. Bessel van der Kolk has been a tremendous supporter to the EMDR community over the years. An internationally respected researcher, scholar, author and public speaker, he was one of the first academic figures to publicly lend his support for the efficacy of EMDR therapy and to conduct research to add to the evidence. His 2007 NIMH funded research article showing EMDR to be a more effective treatment for PTSD than prozac was a groundbreaking study that confronted the psychiatric community with compelling evidence that psychotherapy could be more effective than a pill.

While The Body Keeps the Score is filled with the latest scientific research, it is written for a general audience in an engaging and empathic style. Dr. van der Kolk presents recent scientific findings to show how trauma reshapes both body and brain, compromising capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. He does so with human stories of his own journey of discovery and those of his patients. He explores innovative treatments—including EMDR, neurofeedback, meditation as well as sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity.

This is a book you will want to have at hand in your therapy office to recommend to clients to help them understand trauma’s effects on body and brain and the pathways for healing that are available to them. But first you will want to read it yourself to expand your own awareness of options for recovery you might not have considered.

Journal Articles

Czyz, B., & Muhlbauer, C. (2015). EMDR adjunctive therapy at a community agency, treating clients with a spectrum of mental health disorders.
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 9(1), 35-45. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.9.1.35

Ben Czyz, Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc., 415 S 25th Ave., Omaha, NE 68102. E-mail: bczyz@lfsneb.org


This clinical practice article describes how to provide eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) as an adjunctive treatment. It outlines the process used in developing an EMDR adjunctive therapy program in a nonprofit community agency that serves clients with chronic mental health and substance abuse disorders. The chronicity of clients’ mental health issues is complicated by life stressors that contribute to the lack of insight and accompanying poor decision making and helps to perpetuate the cycle of poverty and homelessness many experience. This article describes the initial pilot project in which EMDR was provided as a short-term intervention adjunctive to cognitive behavioral therapy, transactional analysis, and dialectical behavioral therapy. Preliminary results of this feasibility study supported the hypotheses that EMDR adjunctive therapy would reduce symptoms of traumatic stress and possibly enhance the effects of the primary therapy. This article makes multiple recommendations for program organization, including staff workshops and communication, and describes clinical strategies to ensure client readiness and to integrate EMDR with the other treatments. Recommendations are made for future research.


Laska, K. M., Gurman, A. S., & Wampold, B. E. (2014). Expanding the lens of evidence-based practice in psychotherapy: A common factors perspective.
Psychotherapy (Chicago, Ill.), 51(4), 467-81. doi:10.1037/a0034332

Kevin M. Laska, Bedford VA Medical Center, Bedford, MA 01730. E-mail: Kevin.Laska2@va.gov


In this article, we examine the science and policy implications of the common factors perspective (CF; Frank & Frank, 1993; Wampold, 2007). As the empirically supported treatment (EST) approach, grounded in randomized controlled trials (RCTs), is the received view (see Baker, McFall, & Shoham, 2008; McHugh & Barlow, 2012), we make the case for the CF perspective as an additional evidence-based approach for understanding how therapy works, but also as a basis for improving the quality of mental health services. Finally, we argue that it is time to integrate the 2 perspectives, and we challenge the field to do so.


Mosquera, D., & Knipe, J. (2015). Understanding and treating narcissism with EMDR therapy.
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 9(1), 46-63. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.9.1.46

Dolores Mosquera, INTRA-TP, Instituto para el estudio del Trauma y los Trastornos de la Personalidad, General Sanjurjo 111, 5°, 15006, A Coruña, Spain. E-mail: doloresmosquera@gmail.com


Narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic trait disorder are associated with selfish behaviors and lack of empathy toward others. Clients with either of these initial presentations in therapy show a self- centered profile and lack of empathy or concern about the suffering they may cause in other people, but this is only part of the picture. Sometimes the lack of empathy and selfishness is only a defense. To fully understand this problem, it is also necessary to be aware of underlying self-definition issues that drive the behavioral manifestations of narcissism. As in any psychological problem, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing treatment needs an understanding of how early experiences lead to future symptoms. Understanding the pathways from early experiences to narcissistic features (including covert presentations) is essential for an adequate case conceptualization as well as comprehending the defensive mental structures that impede accessing the core adverse experiences underlying the symptoms.


Myers, K. J. (2015). EMDR with choking phobia: Reflections on the 2008 study by de Roos and de Jongh.
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 9(1), 64-70. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.9.1.64

Keith J. Myers, 4985 Lower Roswell Rd., Bldg. 200, Marietta, GA 30068. E-mail: keithm355@gmail.com


“Translating Research Into Practice” is a regular journal feature in which clinicians share clinical case examples that support, elaborate, or illustrate the results of a specific research study. Each column begins with the abstract of that study, followed by the clinician’s description of their own application of standard eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) procedures with the population or problem treated in the study. The column is edited by the EMDR Research Foundation with the goal of providing a link between research and practice and making research findings relevant in therapists’ day-to-day practices. In this issue’s column, Keith J. Myers references de Roos and de Jongh’s study, which investigated EMDR treatment of choking phobias. Illustrating the treatment considerations and treatment results reported by de Roos and de Jongh, Myers describes the successful treatment of an adult client who presents with choking phobia and secondary depression using the EMDR protocol for phobias. The case example is followed with a discussion of specific treatment considerations in the addressing phobias within the eight phases of EMDR therapy.


Rosaura Polak, A., Witteveen, A. B., Denys, D., & Olff, M. (2015). Breathing biofeedback as an adjunct to exposure in cognitive behavioral therapy hastens the reduction of PTSD symptoms: A pilot study.
Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. doi:10.1007/s10484-015-9268-y

A. Rosaura Polak, Department of Anxiety Disorders, Academic Medical Center (AMC), University of Amsterdam (UvA), Meibergdreef 5, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands e-mail: a.r.polak@amc.nl; a.r.polak@amc.uva.nl

Full text open access: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10484-015-9268-y


Although trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) with exposure is an effective treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), not all patients recover. Addition of breathing biofeedback to exposure in TF-CBT is suggested as a promising complementary technique to improve recovery of PTSD symptoms. Patients (n = 8) with chronic PTSD were randomized to regular TF-CBT or TF-CBT with complementary breathing biofeedback to exposure. PTSD symptoms were measured before, during and after TF-CBT with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised. The results show that breathing biofeedback is feasible and can easily be complemented to TF-CBT. Although PTSD symptoms significantly decreased from pre to post treatment in both conditions, there was a clear trend towards a significantly faster (p = .051) symptom reduction in biofeedback compared to regular TF-CBT. The most important limitation was the small sample size. The hastened clinical improvement in the biofeedback condition supports the idea that breathing biofeedback may be an effective complementary component to exposure in PTSD patients. The mechanism of action of breathing biofeedback may relate to competing working memory resources decreasing vividness and emotionality, similar to eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. Future research is needed to examine this.


Shapiro, E., & Laub, B. (2015). Early EMDR intervention following a community critical incident: A randomized clinical trial.
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 9(1), 17-27. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.9.1.17

Elan Shapiro, PO Box 187, Ramat Yishay, 30095, Israel. E-mail: elanshapiro@gmail.com


The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of early eye movement desensitization and reprocess-ing (EMDR) intervention using the EMDR recent traumatic episode protocol (R-TEP) after a traumatic community event whereby a missile hit a building in a crowded area of a town. In a waitlist/delayed treatment parallel-group randomized controlled trial, 17 survivors with posttraumatic distress were treated with EMDR therapy using the R-TEP protocol. Volunteer EMDR practitioners conducted treatment on 2 consecutive days. Participants were randomly allocated to either immediate or waitlist/delayed treatment conditions. Assessments with Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) brief depression inventory took place at pre- and posttreatment and at 3 months follow-up. At 1 week posttreatment, the scores of the immediate treatment group were significantly improved on the IES-R compared to the waitlist/delayed treatment group, who showed no improvement prior to their treatment. At 3 months follow-up, results on the IES-R were maintained and there was a significant improvement on PHQ-9 scores. This pilot study provides preliminary evidence, supporting the efficacy of EMDR R-TEP for reducing posttrauma stress among civilian victims of hostility, and shows that this model of intervention briefly augmenting local mental health services following large-scale traumatic incidents, using an EMDR intervention on 2 consecutive days may be effective.

Book Reviews

EMDRIA Members can access the following book reviews in the
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research Volume 9, Issue 1, in the member’s area on the EMDRIA website.

Those who want to find these books and online reviews can click the title for direct access to the book on Amazon.

Book Reviews. (2015).
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 9(1), 71-76. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.9.1.71

Psychotherapy for the Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse: A How-to Guide for Evidence-Based Practice, Second Edition Kathleen Wheeler. Springer Publishing, New York, NY, 2014, 718 pp., $80.98 (paperback). Reviewed by Linda Maybe

Healing Moments in Psychotherapy Daniel J. Siegel and Marion Solomon. W.W. Norton & Co., New York, NY, 2013, 292 pp., $40.00 (paperback). Reviewed by Sara G. Gilman

Attachment-Focused EMDR: Healing Relational Trauma Laurel Parnell. W.W. Norton & Co., New York, NY, 2013, 397 pp., $39.95 (hardback), $19.99 (Kindle). Reviewed by Merrill Powers

The Psychology of Women: Diverse Perspectives from the Modern World Jamie Marich. Nova Science Pub Inc., Hauppauge, NY, 2013, 205 pp., $150.00 (hardcover). Reviewed by David Eliscu

Implementing EMDR Early Mental Health Interventions for Man-Made and Natural Disasters: Models, Scripted Protocols and Summary Sheets Marilyn Luber. Springer Publishing, New York, NY, 2014, 584 pp., $70.00 (paperback), $70.00 (mixed media product, with CD-ROM). Reviewed by Roy Kiessling

Treating Complex Traumatic Stress Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Scientific Foundations and Therapeutic Models Julian D. Ford and Christine A. Courtois. Guil-ford Press, New York, NY, 2013, 368 pp., $45.00 (hardcover). Reviewed by Anthony Cotraccia

Don’t I Have the Right to Be Angry? The HEArt Program for Veterans and Others Who Want to Prevent Destructive Anger Howard J. Lipke. Self-published, Good Looking Software Inc., Wheeling, IL, 2014, 142 pp., $12.99 (paperback). Reviewed by Mark C. Russell

EMDR Up Close: Subtleties of Trauma Processing Philip Manfield. Self-published, Cornucopia Publish-ers, Norman, OK, 2013, 180 pp., $19.95 (paperback). Reviewed by Nancy C. Joyce