A randomized experimental test of the efficacy of EMDR treatment on negative body image in eating disorder inpatients

Eat Disord. Oct-Dec 2008;16(5):418-27. doi: 10.1080/10640260802370598.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is being used by some clinicians to treat eating disorders. Although there is anecdotal and case study data supporting its use, there are no controlled studies examining its effectiveness with this population. This study examined the short and long-term effects of EMDR in a residential eating disorders population. A randomized, experimental design compared 43 women receiving standard residential eating disorders treatment (SRT) to 43 women receiving SRT and EMDR therapy (SRT+EMDR) on measures of negative body image and other clinical outcomes. SRT+EMDR reported less distress about negative body image memories and lower body dissatisfaction at posttreatment, 3-month, and 12-month follow-up, compared to SRT. Additional comparisons revealed no differences between the conditions pre to posttreatment on other measures of body image and clinical outcomes. The empirical evidence reported here suggests that EMDR may be used to treat specific aspects of negative body image in conjunction with SRT, but further research is necessary to determine whether or not EMDR is effective for treating the variety of eating pathology presented by eating disorder inpatients.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Image*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Desensitization, Psychologic / methods*
  • Eye Movements*
  • Family Therapy
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Memory
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Negativism
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Residential Treatment
  • Self Concept
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Women / psychology*