Two Randomized Experiments Assessing the Effectiveness of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy  (1997)

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Principal Investigator:
Allen Rubin, Ph.D.

Duration: 1997

This project involved ongoing randomized experimental evaluations of the effectiveness of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a cognitive-behavioral intervention developed initially for victims of trauma.

In one investigation, children being served in a Child Guidance Center were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: 1) Routine Child Guidance Center services (such as play therapy and group and family therapy); or 2) Routine services plus EMDR. Outcome was measured using the parent version of the Behavior Problem scales of the Child Behavior Checklist, which is widely regarded as one of the best behavioral rating scales for assessing emotional and behavioral disorders in children, based on its breadth and diversity of items, standardization and norms, and reliability and validity. Results showed that the moderate differences between the two groups were not statistically significant. However, this may have been a function of a Type II error due to the small sample size. The written report is currently near completion and will be submitted for publication.

In the second of the two investigations, 60 adult female survivors of childhood sexual abuse were randomly assigned to either: 1) Six sessions of EMDR treatment; or 2) Six sessions of eclectic therapy. (The original study also utilized a wait-list control group, but they were not included in the follow-up.) Outcome was measured using the following standardized instruments: State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (State Form); Impact of Event Scale; and the Beck Depression Inventory. Posttest results showed that both EMDR and eclectic therapy were significantly better than no therapy. EMDR descriptively had better posttest data than eclectic therapy, but most of the EMDR-eclectic differences were not statistically significant. However, all these differences either became statistically significant or approached statistical significance in a three- month follow up.

Results of an 18-month follow-up with women who received the EMDR or eclectic treatment showed that EMDR effects continued to be beneficial at the 18-month follow-up point.

Sponsor:
Austin Child Guidance Center, Austin, TX 
Lois and Samuel Silberman Fund

Keywords: health care