Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in the treatment of test anxiety: a study of the effects of expectancy and eye movement

J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 1995 Dec;26(4):331-7. doi: 10.1016/0005-7916(95)00038-0.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a recently invented technique acclaimed as a major breakthrough for a range of anxiety-related symptoms. To determine the importance of the eye movement and expectancy variables, we conducted a one-hour session with 41 undergraduate subjects (11 males and 30 females) with test anxiety. A 2 (eye movement vs no eye movement) x 2 (high expectancy vs low expectancy) analysis of variance was performed on three dependent measures: (1) Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale (SUDs). (Wolpe, The Practice of Behavior Therapy, 1982); (2) Validity of Cognition Scale (VOC) (Shapiro, 1992); and (3) the Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI) (Spielberger, TestAnxiety Inventory Preliminary Professional Manual, 1977). The data indicate that all subjects, regardless of treatment condition, showed a significant decrease in anxiety on the TAI. Subjects in the eye-movement condition reported feeling less anxious (SUDs) than those in the no-eye-movement condition. We found no significant main effect or interactions for any of the dependent measures for expectancy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Eye Movements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapy*