Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): a meta-analysis

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2001 Apr;69(2):305-16. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.69.2.305.


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), a controversial treatment suggested for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conditions, was evaluated in a meta-analysis of 34 studies that examined EMDR with a variety of populations and measures. Process and outcome measures were examined separately. and EMDR showed an effect on both when compared with no treatment and with therapies not using exposure to anxiety-provoking stimuli and in pre post EMDR comparisons. However, no significant effect was found when EMDR was compared with other exposure techniques. No incremental effect of eye movements was noted when EMDR was compared with the same procedure without them. R. J. DeRubeis and P. Crits-Christoph (1998) noted that EMDR is a potentially effective treatment for noncombat PTSD. but studies that examined such patient groups did not give clear support to this. In sum, EMDR appears to be no more effective than other exposure techniques, and evidence suggests that the eye movements integral to the treatment, and to its name, are unnecessary.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Desensitization, Psychologic*
  • Eye Movements*
  • Humans
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome