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EMDR on the web

Posted by badhaircut on June 17, 2005, at 11:29:34

In reply to Re: New therapist, new therapy, posted by happyflower on June 16, 2005, at 21:07:01

> The only negative I have ever read on the internet (and I have researched it tons of hours) is one of the above posts.

There's a great deal of EMDR criticism on the web. The prevailing opinion of those not directly relying on EMDR in their careers seems to be that AT BEST there is as yet no solid evidence. Quite a few studies – many of them mentioned at – conclude that the effective part of EMDR has nothing to do with eye movement; benefits simply come from the portion of the treatment that's identical to exposure & cognitive therapy as usual. In practice EMDR is always combined with other techniques.

On the good side, there doesn't seem to be much actual harm reported as done by EMDR other than that suggested in my post up-thread. (There are a few anecdotes collected at an "EMDR Victims' Page"


•It is only in PTSD that there is any controlled, peer-reviewed evidence that EMDR works at all. This fact has not stopped some practitioners from promoting EMDR to treat Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, multiple personalities, child behavioral problems, etc.

•The most recent and thorough review on the web is probably Grant Devilly's in 2002. He says EMDR is better than nothing, but the eye-movement part is useless.

•In a long and apparently even-handed review, a 'Psychiatric Times' article concluded that "the primary literature on EMDR does not justify claims about its [superiority] to CBT. Nor is there any strong evidence that EMDR achieves its therapeutic effects through different or additional mechanisms" – such as eye movements.

•In 1992 Gerald Rosen pointed out that training in EMDR seemed secretive and mercenary. "Participants in EMDR workshops must agree not to audiotape any portion of the workshop, train others in the technique without formal approval, or disseminate EMDR training information to colleagues." This is a serious, anti-scientific problem with the movement, if it still applies.

•More recently, Rosen attacked EMDR's developers for "abusing and misusing" requirements of training. When other researchers fail to reproduce the amazing results claimed for EMDR, its proponents claim that the treatment wasn't done right, or fully, or long enough, or with adequate (now "Level II") training – even when certificates of such training are obtained from EMDR's founder. His critique of intellectual integrity in EMDR is here:

•Harvard's Richard McNally attributed EMDR's popularity to hype and "entrepreneurial genius." He outlined the similarities in the spread of EMDR to the spread of "animal magnetism" therapy in the 1700s.

•Brian Gaudiano said that news accounts of most new treatments, including EMDR, are predictably, thoughtlessly gushing and unskeptical. A Google News search today for EMDR confirms this.

•Grant Devilly's research papers on EMDR can be found at his web site, including the one for PTSD treatment in which eye movement was no better than staring at a FIXED point of light (Devilly et al 1998).

•A few skeptical, popular press accounts of EMDR are also available, like:

"One day, clinicians may find themselves in front of reasonable fellow citizens, having to explain why they waved fingers in front of a patient's face, when studies failed to support the miraculous claims made..." –Gerald Rosen




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