EMDR Research News November 2013

This month there are five new journal articles and two commentaries. First, there is a quasi-experimental study of EMDR therapy for students with speech anxiety. There is a randomized controlled comparison of EMDR and progressive counting for single-incident trauma or loss. There is a review article that mentions EMDR in relationship to perceived treatment helpfulness in cohort of World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers. Then, there is a curious randomized controlled treatment outcome study from Iran comparing EMDR therapy with prolonged exposure therapy for combat veterans suffering from chronic PTSD. It is curious because subjects who received PE were given twice as many treatment sessions as those receiving EMDR. And, there is another experimental study from the working memory group in the Netherlands on the blurring of emotional memories through eye movements.

Finally there is a commentary critical of the 2013 Lee and Cuijpers meta-analysis of the specific effects of eye movements in both laboratory and EMDR therapy outcome studies along with a rebuttal from Lee and Cuijpers. A preview of the first page of each of these commentaries is open access. These commentaries stand clearly on their own merits, but merely as an introduction I would offer you this quotation from Arthur C. Clark:

"It is really quite amazing by what margins competent but conservative scientists and engineers can miss the mark, when they start with the preconceived idea that what they are investigating is impossible. When this happens, the most well-informed men become blinded by their prejudices and are unable to see what lies directly ahead of them."

This month I am bringing you the introduction to a video recording of Debra Wesselmann’s 2010 workshop at the EMDR Europe Conference in Hamburg on “
Adapting EMDR for Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder Behaviors.”

In the
forthcoming books section you will find an early announcement of two exciting books from Debra Wesselmann and her co-authors Cathy Schweitzer and Stefanie Armstrong on a team treatment model for offering EMDR therapy to parents and their children with attachment and trauma issues.

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

This month, I am bringing you the opening segment of Debra Wesselmann’s 2010 workshop at the EMDR Europe Conference in Hamburg on “
Adapting EMDR for Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder Behaviors.” This video is just over 13 minutes long. Many of you may know Debra Wesselmann as the author of the 2003 book The Whole Parent: How To Become A Terrific Parent Even If You Didn't Have One as well as co-author with Ann Potter of the 2009 open access article “Change in adult attachment status following treatment with EMDR: Three case studies” that appeared in Volume 3 Number 3 of the Journal of EMDR Practice and Research. She is also the first author of two exciting, forthcoming books on the EMDR treatment of children with attachment trauma. See more on these new books in the book section below.

Debra Wesselmann introduction to “Adapting EMDR for Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder Behaviors.”


Forthcoming books on EMDR

I am excited to share with you news about two important forthcoming books on EMDR by Debra Wesselmann, Cathy Schweitzer and Stefanie Armstrong of the Omaha based
Attachment and Trauma Center of Nebraska. As an invited reviewer I recently finished reading these books. I can tell you that these books will be essential reading for EMDR trained clinicians treating parents and their children with attachment and trauma issues. They are available for pre-order now.

ITT book cover
Integrative Team Treatment for Attachment Trauma in Children presents practical and easy to follow procedures that meet the multi-faceted treatment needs of children who have experienced trauma or neglect. The authors provide the theoretical foundation clinicians need to understand how attachment trauma affects children’s emotional, behavioral and psychological development. They integrate a wide range of both well-established and lesser-known EMDR procedures to address every clinical contingency with detailed case vignettes that illustrate each aspect of the treatment process. This comprehensive and well-written volume, offers the practical tools and specific guidance needed to build an effective team approach for helping the children who most need our help to establish a secure attachment.

Integrative Parenting cover
Integrative Parenting offers essential, up-to-date and practical information for parents and extended family members of children who have experienced attachment loss and trauma. The authors explain the brain science of attachment loss and childhood trauma in clear and easy to understand language. They offer behavioral calming and skills building activities with sample parent-child conversations that foster parents and adoptive parents will find invaluable. For families whose children are receiving care based on their professional treatment manual, Integrative Team Treatment for Attachment Trauma in Children, this wonderful guide provides an orientation to their team approach to EMDR therapy and a roadmap for helping children build new, secure family connections.


Journal Articles

Aslani, J., Miratashi, M., & Aslani, L. (2013). Effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy on public speaking anxiety of university students. Zahedan Journal of Research in Medical Sciences.

Jalil Aslani, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Allameh Tabatabai University, Tehran, Iran.


Background: Public speaking anxiety is a prominent problem in the college student population. The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing on public speaking anxiety of college students.

Materials and Methods: The design of research was quasi-experimental with pre-post test type, and control group. The sample consistent of 30 students with speech anxiety that selected base on available sampling and assigned randomly in experimental (N=15) and control (N=15) groups. The experimental group was treated with EMDR therapy for 7 sessions. In order to collect the data, Paul’s personal report of confidence as a speaker, S-R inventory of anxiousness was used. To analyze the data, SPSS-19 software and covariance analysis were used.

Results: The multivariate analysis of covariance showed that the eye movement desensitization and reprocessing reducing public speaking anxiety. The one-way analysis of covariance for each variable shows there are significant differences in confidence of speaker (p=0.001) and physiological symptoms of speech anxiety (p=0.001) at the two groups.

Conclusion: These results suggest that treatment of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is effective on reducing physiological symptoms of speech anxiety and increasing the speaker’s confidence.


Devilly, G. J., Ono, M., & Lohr, J. M. (2013). The use of meta-analytic software to derive hypotheses for EMDR.
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, in press. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2013.10.004

Grant J. Devilly,School of Applied Psychology & Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Mt Gravatt, Qld 4122, Australia. grant@devily.org, g.devily@griffith.edu


Not available. First page of article can be viewed at:


Greenwald, R., McClintock, S. D., & Bailey, T. D. (2013). A controlled comparison of eye movement desensitization & reprocessing and progressive counting.
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 22(9), 981-996. doi:10.1080/10926771.2013.834020

Ricky Greenwald, Trauma Institute and Child Trauma Institute, Greenfield, Massachusetts, USA. rg@childtrauma.com


Ten therapists who were already trained and experienced in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) received training in progressive counting (PC), a newer trauma resolution method. Nineteen volunteers with single-incident trauma or loss were assigned to a therapist and then randomized to treatment condition; 15 completed treatment to termination criteria or until the 4th session. Participants in both conditions experienced significant reductions in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, memory-related distress, and presenting problems at one week posttreatment, and maintained at 12-week follow-up, with no significant differences in outcomes, treatment efficiency, or dropout rate. The preliminary findings of this pilot study suggest that PC is an efficient, well-tolerated, and effective trauma treatment that is relatively easy for therapists to master.


Lee, C. W., & Cuijpers, P. (2013). What does the data say about the importance of eye movement in EMDR?
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, in press. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2013.10.002

Christopher William Lee, School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, South St., Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia. E-mail: chris.lee@murdoch.edu.au


Not available. First page of article can be viewed at:


Leikauf, J., Schechter, C. B., Marrone, K., Ozbay, F., Rapoport, A., Sharma, V., & Katz, C. L. (2013). Patient-Clinician agreement on treatment type and helpfulness: Results from a WTC rescue and recovery worker cohort.
Psychiatric Services (Washington, D.C.), 64(11), 1173-6. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201200402

John Leikauf, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, 1 Gustave L. Levy Pl., Box 1230, New York, NY 10029 (e-mail: john.leikauf@mssm.edu).


OBJECTIVE This study assessed patient and clinician agreement about treatment type and its association with treatment helpfulness among World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers.

METHODS A total of 187 outpatients and 280 clinicians completed a survey, which gathered information on patient characteristics, treatment types, and treatment helpfulness. Kappa statistics and sensitivity and specificity analyses were used, and the association between patient-clinician agreement and reported treatment benefit was determined.

RESULTS Patient-clinician agreement was highest for group therapy, medication management, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and couples therapy. Agreement about medication management, individual psychotherapy, and workers' compensation evaluation was associated with higher reported treatment benefits.

CONCLUSIONS Findings support the hypothesis that agreement regarding treatment type is associated with higher reported benefit and extend findings of previous studies to a linguistically diverse, naturalistic sample exposed to a disaster trauma. Results also highlight the need for better understanding of eclectic therapies offered in real-world clinical practice.


Maredpour, A., Naderi, F., & Mehrabizadeh, H. M. (2013). Comparing the efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy with prolonged exposure therapy on the trauma impact symptoms in veterans suffering from chronic PTSD.
Armaghan Danesh, 77(5), 256-367.

A. Maredpour, Department of Psychology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Khouzestan, Iran.


Background and aim: Post-traumatic stress disorder is considered as set of symptoms developed afterward an individual witness, hear or involved. The current research was purposed to compare the efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy with prolonged exposure therapy on the trauma impact symptoms in veterans suffering from chronic PTSD.
Methods: in this clinical trail research randomly sampled 48 veterans diagnosed with PTSD who had psychiatric records in Salman City Hospital of Yasuj. The subjects devoted in three equal groups: two experimental and one control groups. As intervention procedures the two experimental groups were exposed to eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (5 sessions) and prolonged exposure therapy (10 sessions) respectively. The control group received none. Subsequent to the treatment period the triple groups were post-tested by the prior pre test scales. The data were analyzed by implementing univariate analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and Bonferroni post hoc test.
Results: Both treatment procedures significantly reduced the trauma impact symptoms (p£0.001).The results also indicated that prolonged exposure therapy was more effective concerning the trauma impact symptoms improvement.
Conclusion: Intervention treatment procedures such as eye movement desensitization, reprocessing therapy, and prolonged exposure therapy sustain sufficient efficacy in trauma impact symptoms improvement while prolonged exposure therapy exceeded significantly.


van den Hout, M. A., Eidhof, M. B., Verboom, J., Littel, M., & Engelhard, I. M. (2013). Blurring of emotional and non-emotional memories by taxing working memory during recall.
Cognition & Emotion. doi:10.1080/02699931.2013.848785

Marcel A. van den Hout, Clinical and Health Psychology , Utrecht University , Utrecht , The Netherlands. m.vandenhout@uu.nl


Memories that are recalled while working memory (WM) is taxed, e.g., by making eye movements (EM), become blurred during the recall + EM and later recall, without EM. This may help to explain the effects of Eye Movement and Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in which patients make EM during trauma recall. Earlier experimental studies on recall + EM have focused on emotional memories. WM theory suggests that recall + EM is superior to recall only but is silent about effects of memory emotionality. Based on the emotion and memory literature, we examined whether recall + EM has superior effects in blurring emotional memories relative to neutral memories. Healthy volunteers recalled negative or neutral memories, matched for vividness, while visually tracking a dot that moved horizontally ("recall + EM") or remained stationary ("recall only"). Compared to a pre-test, a post-test (without concentrating on the dot) replicated earlier findings: negative memories are rated as less vivid after "recall + EM" but not after "recall only". This was not found for neutral memories. Emotional memories are more taxing than neutral memories, which may explain the findings. Alternatively, transient arousal induced by recall of aversive memories may promote reconsolidation of the blurred memory image that is provoked by EM.