A randomized controlled trial comparing EMDR and CBT for obsessive-compulsive disorder

Clin Psychol Psychother. 2018 Jan;25(1):e10-e18. doi: 10.1002/cpp.2120. Epub 2017 Jul 28.


Background: This study aimed to evaluate eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) as a treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), by comparison to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) based on exposure and response prevention.

Method: This was a pragmatic, feasibility randomized controlled trial in which 55 participants with OCD were randomized to EMDR (n = 29) or CBT (n = 26). The Yale-Brown obsessive-compulsive scale was completed at baseline, after treatment and at 6 months follow-up. Treatment completion and response rates were compared using chi-square tests. Effect size was examined using Cohen's d and multilevel modelling.

Results: Overall, 61.8% completed treatment and 30.2% attained reliable and clinically significant improvement in OCD symptoms, with no significant differences between groups (p > .05). There were no significant differences between groups in Yale-Brown obsessive-compulsive scale severity post-treatment (d = -0.24, p = .38) or at 6 months follow-up (d = -0.03, p = .90).

Conclusions: EMDR and CBT had comparable completion rates and clinical outcomes.

Keywords: CBT; EMDR; obsessive-compulsive disorder; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome