2016 Research Award Recipients
Seven grants, totaling $91,130 were awarded in 2016: including three $25,000 research grants, one $5,130 research grant, two $5,000 dissertation research awards, and one $1,000 consultation award.
One $25,000 research grant was awarded in September 2016 to the following:
Marleen Rijkeboer, Marcel van den Hout, Erick ten Broeke | Utrecht University, Netherlands
Project Title: EMDR as an Innovative Strategy in the Treatment of OCD
The aim of this research is to critically examine the effect of EMDR added to Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) on treatment acceptability and outcome in patients with OCD. The evidence of the effect of EMDR for OCD is scant, although on theoretical grounds and clinical impressions it is hypothesized that EMDR will effectively reduce the impact of fear imagery in OCD, thereby lowering distress. Hence, it is expected that patients will be more prepared to engage in, and less inclined to drop-out, leading to an increase of the overall OCD treatment effect.
One $5,000 dissertation grant was awarded in September 2016 to the following:
Yvette Eriksen | Charles Sturt University, Australia
Dissertation Title: Ecological Evaluation, Acceptability and Effectiveness of the Standard Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Protocol for Posttraumatic Symptoms with an Aboriginal Australian Community: A Collaborative Mixed Methods Enquiry
There is no research to date evaluating the cultural sensitivity, acceptability or effectiveness of EMDR with Indigenous Australian peoples. This research aims to provide valuable, culturally appropriate evaluation of EMDR to inform future trauma-focused interventions for Indigenous Australian peoples.
One $1,000 research consultation grant was awarded in September 2016 to the following:
Amanda Roberts PhD, MA & Larry Shrier MA
Project Title: The EMDR Group Traumatic Event Protocol with an oncology population
The ultimate goal of this project is to show that the EMDR Group Traumatic Event Protocol (G-TEP) is highly effective and safe for use with cancer patients and significantly reduces post-traumatic symptoms, anxiety and depression.
Two $25,000 research grants were awarded in May 2016 to the following:
G. Di Lorenzo, MD. PhD | University of Rome
Co-Applicants: L. Ostacoli, MD, A.Hofmann, MD & M. Pagani, MD, PhD
Project Title: Neurobiological processing of emotions in Major Depression: comparing the effects of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and Anti-Depressant Medication.
Depression is a severe challenge to mental health systems worldwide, and has significant neurobiological consequences. The aims of this study are 1) to compare the neurobiological effects of two different therapeutic interventions (EMDR and Anti-Depressant Medication) on emotion processing in adult patients with Major Depressive Disorder as assessed through High Density-EEG, and 2) to compare the efficacy of different interventions on clinical symptoms. The results of this study will help to improve the efficacy and effectiveness of treating the costly population of patients with depression.
C. Lee, PhD| Murdoch University, Australia
Co-Applicants: A. Arntz, PhD, F.R. Watt, MB, BS, FRANZCP & K. Boterhoven de Haan, PhD
Project Title: Imagery Rescripting (ImRs) vs. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) as treatment of childhood-trauma related PTSD in adults.
Trauma that originates from childhood experiences can develop into a chronic condition having a lasting impact on an individual’s functioning and quality of life. Both imagery rescripting (ImRs) and EMDR therapy seem highly acceptable and effective treatments, which are less demanding than other trauma treatments. They are brief trauma-focused interventions that limit the amount of exposure to traumatic material, and are thereby found to be less distressing. The primary aim of this study is to compare these two trauma-focused interventions for treatment of childhood trauma-related PTSD. A second aim is to explore the treatment experience from the participant’s perspective, and thirdly explore how EMDR therapy and ImRs treatments influence trauma memory narratives.
One $5,130 research grant was awarded in May 2016 to the following:
F.J.J. Ter Heide, PhD| Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Co-Applicants: J.W. Knipscheer, PhD, T.M. Mooren, PhD, R.J. Kleber, PhD & D. Medema M Sc
Project Title: Association between coping style and response to EMDR and stabilization therapy in refugees with PTSD.
There is currently a heated debate on the necessity of phased treatment for refugees who experience PTSD. Some clinicians argue that treatment guidelines for PTSD should be followed and EMDR or TF-CBT be offered, while others argue that trauma-focused treatment should be preceded or even replaced by stabilization. Coping style is an important element in this debate. The study aims to determine 1) if coping styles in refugees change as a result of receiving EMDR therapy or stabilization therapy, and 2) if different coping styles affect the response to EMDR therapy or stabilization therapy?
One $5,000 dissertation grant was awarded in May 2016 to the following:
Michelle D. Morrissey, MS, LMFT | Northcentral University, Arizona
Project Title: EMDR-IGTP for Secondary Traumatic Stress/Vicarious Trauma among First Responders.
First responders experience daily exposure to critical incidences, which can increase the likelihood of developing vicarious trauma (VT) and secondary traumatic stress (STS). This study will consider if the proposed treatment, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing-integrated group treatment protocol (EMDR-IGTP) can decrease PTSD-like symptoms associated with VT/STS and increase post-traumatic growth (PTG). PTG has been defined as positive outcomes after exposure to traumatic events. Participants in this study will be nurses recruited from emergency rooms, EMS personnel, and firefighters who reside and/or work in the selected towns in Colorado.
2015 Research Award Recipients: $25,000 awards
$25,000 research grants were awarded in August 2015 to Dr Benedikt L Amann (EMDR bipolar protocol), in May 2015 to Dr. Marco Pagani (EMDR with PTSD in breast cancer) and in May 2015 to Dr. Luca Ostacoli and Dr. Arne Hofmann (EMDR vs CBT with current and recurrent depression: RCT)
One $25,000 research grant was awarded in August 2015 to the following:
Dr Benedikt L Amann, MD, PhD | FIDMAG Research Foundation / CIBERSAM
Project Title: Comparison of a novel Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) bipolar protocol versus Supportive Therapy (ST) in the prevention of affective relapses in bipolar patients with a history of trauma: a multicenter single-blind, randomized controlled trial.
Up to 60% of bipolar patients suffer from traumatic events, a comorbidity that causes a worsening in the outcome of the disease. Trauma focused treatment strategies for bipolar disorder are necessary but significant studies are lacking so far. A relatively new psychotherapeutic option is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. We previously found positive results in a first pilot randomized controlled trial in 20 subsyndromal bipolar with traumatic events in their history who improved in trauma and affective symptoms after 3 months EMDR intervention (vs TAU).
As a result of this trial we designed an exhaustive EMDR bipolar protocol with a focus on traumatic events and included 5 specific bipolar sub-protocols. Our aim is to test this protocol in a multicentre trial including 82 bipolar I and II patients with a history of traumatic events who will be randomly allocated to individual EMDR (n=41) or to individual Supportive Therapy (ST) (n=41). Patients will receive 20 EMDR sessions during 6 months. The primary outcome criterion is a reduction of affective episodes after 12 months. Psychopathology, the cognitive state (Screen for Cognitive State in Psychiatry-SCIP), social cognition (MSCEIT) and functioning (FAST) will be evaluated at baseline, after 3 and 6 months, and also at the 12 months follow up visit. Cytokines will be measured pre- and post treatment to examine immunological changes associated to the interventions.
Two $25,000 research grantswere awarded in May 2015 to the following:
Marco Pagani, MD PhD
Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, CNR Rome & Padua, Italy
Project Title: Neurobiological features and response to EMDR treatment of PTSD in breast cancer patients
Stress and or trauma-related symptoms among cancer patients have been recently investigated and associated to disease diagnosis and to the the potential life-threatening situation. Assuming that brain regions involved in PTSD in cancer patients are the same showing changes in different psychological traumas, is possible to deduce that therapies effective to treat PTSD in populations would do the same in cancer-related psychological treatment. To date no neuroimaging studies have evaluate the neurobiological effect of successful psychotherapeutic treatment for post-traumatic symptoms in cancer patients. The aim of the present study is: i) to treat by EMDR a cohort of breast cancer patients with PTSD; ii) to identify by Electroencephalography (EEG) the regions activated upon bilateral stimulation in both the initial symptomatic and the final asymptomatic phases; iii) to correlate the neurophysiological changes to the neuropsychological and clinical status.
To access a PDF of 114 slides from Dr. Pagani's plenary presentation, "Imaging EMDR Related Neurobiological Changes", given at the 2015 EMDRIA Conference in Philadelphia, PA click here.
Dr. Luca Ostacoli and Dr. Arne Hofmann
St. Luigi Hospital, Turin, Italy, Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, University of Turin
Facharzt für Psychosomatische und Innere Medizin, EMDR Institut Deutschland
Project Title: Role of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) versus Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in reducing depressive symptoms in patients with Current Depressive Episode and Recurrent Depression: A multicenter randomized controlled clinical trial.
The current multicenter randomized study is organized from the EDEN network (European Depression EMDR Network) of EMDR Europe. The aim is to study if patients with current Depressive Episode and Recurrent Depressive Disorders benefit from a psychotherapeutic intervention (by using CBT or EMDR) in addition to standard clinical management. The study started in 2010 (randomization started at 1.1.2012). Two controlled pilot studies were done earlier in Germany from 2018-2012 in an outpatient and inpatient setting to check the effectiveness of adjunctive EMDR in depressive patients. Both studies yielded promising results. The first study is published by the JEMDR this august. The second is submitted to another peer reviewed journal. Both studies had no external funding and were done with volunteer work alone. The current study involves three Centers in three European Countries (Italy, Spain, Germany). Each Center randomizes patients with Current Depressive Episode and Recurrent Depressive Disorder in two treatment conditions (TAU+EMDR, or TAU+CBT). The data from all centers are collected in a web- database and will be analyzed by the Psychosomatic and Clinical Psychology Service, A.O.U. “San Luigi Gonzaga Hospital” (Italy) at the end of the intervention and at the follow-up phases (6 months, 1 year, 2 years), as described with more details in the “research design and methods” section. The centers of this study are financially independent and do most of the study on a volunteer basis like the pilot studies did. The minimum number of patients recruited by each center should be 30 patients. For the two University based centers we plan for 60 patients (Turin, Italy and Ulm, Germany). The structure of the study is such that it can succeed even if one or two centers cant fulfill their numbers of patients randomized. However, the volunteer structure that has worked well in our pilot studies slows down patient intake in our multicenter trial. That is why the time for intake of the study was recently extended to June 2015. The number of patients needed for a good consistency of the study would be 120.
One $1,000 research consultation grant was awarded in April 2015 to:
April Wise, MFT LPCC, California Southern University
Project Title: The Effect of Two Protocols of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing on Persons with Co-occurring PTSD and Addictive disorders.
The incidence of co-occurring trauma and addictive disorders in the population is known to be high. This combination also presents treatment challenges; which symptoms to treat first and how to stabilize an individual to safely address PTSD and promote on-going sobriety. The EMDR Therapy standard protocol has now been used successfully for the treatment of trauma. Several EMDR addiction-specific protocols; DeTur (Popky, 2005), CravEx (Hase, 2009), FSAP (Miller, 2012) have been utilized for the reduction of substance abuse and behavioral addictive symptoms. The purpose of this study is to acquire new knowledge of how the use of the standard protocol and an addiction protocol in treatment of persons with co-occurring disorders of trauma and addiction affects recovery. The research implements a qualitative methodology to investigate lived experiences of participants who experienced EMDR in treatment, either in private practice settings or as part of a treatment program. It is anticipated that the perspectives gained from participants’ experiences will better allow clinicians to more skillfully and safely conduct case conceptualization in the integrated use of standard and addiction-specialized protocols in treatment.
2014 Research Award Recipients
Three $25,000 research grants were awarded in December 2014 to the following:
Erno J. Hermans, Ph.D; Co-Applicants: Lycia D. de Voogd, MSc; Jonathan W. Kanen, BSc
Radboud University Medical Centre
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Project Title – Neurobiological basis of EMDR: The medial temporal lobe suppression hypothesis
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) has proven a promising treatment option for fear related mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the mechanisms by which EMDR exerts its therapeutic effects remain poorly understood. To develop such mechanistic insight and promote evidence-based practice, we propose to investigate the effects of lateral eye movements on fear memory retention in a well established experimental laboratory model of fear and safety learning. We aim to test a novel hypothesis derived from recent findings in human cognitive neuroscience, which have revealed that dissociable large-scale networks in the human brain compete and activate reciprocally. Our hypothesis states that deployment of endogenous attention during lateral eye movements, which activates a large-scale neural system in the dorsal part of the brain, leads to a suppression of another large-scale system that includes regions in the medial temporal lobe that are critical for formation and (re)consolidation of long-term memory for emotional events. We will test this hypothesis in healthy humans using functional neuroimaging. If successful, this research will greatly advance our understanding of the mechanisms of action of EMDR and thereby pave the way for advancement of the technique based on mechanistic understanding.
E. C. Hurley, Ph.D, Soldier Center, Clarksville, TN
Project Title – A comparative study of the efficacy of EMDR therapy in the treatment of simple PTSD and moral injury
An average of 22 veterans a day commit suicide while nearly one-fourth of veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, many veterans who have served in combat struggle with guilt and moral injury. There is a continuing need for effective psychological treatment for active duty military personnel and veterans.This study is designed to measure the effectiveness of EMDR therapy in the treatment of OIF and OEF veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), guilt and moral injury. Participants will include two diagnostic groups: Group 1 will consist of veterans diagnosed with simple PTSD; Group 2 will be comprised of veterans diagnosed with PTSD and moral injury (PTSD + MI). Inclusion criteria for both groups will be determined by a diagnosis of PTSD using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). Additional measures for evaluating treatment response include the PCL-5, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory, the Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES), Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, the Moral Injury Events Scale (MIES), and the Trauma Related Guilt Inventory (TRGI). The instruments will be administered repetitively at pretreatment, posttreatment, and 3, 6 and 12 month follow-up periods. Each diagnostic group will receive 12 sessions of EMDR therapy, 90 minutes per session. Statistical analysis will include a mixed analysis of variance with the between group variable (PTSD vs. PTSD + MI) with the within-group variable being Pre/Post/Follow-up (3, 6 and 12 months). The PCL-5 changes between the two groups will be tested with the Random Regression Model (RRM).
Emre Konuk, MA and Zeynep Zat
Institute: DBE DAVRANIŞ BİLİMLERİ ENSTİTÜSÜ (INSTITUTE FOR BEHAVIORAL STUDIES)
Partner University: Sivas University, Medical Faculty, Psychiatry Department
Project Title – EMDR Treatment of Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a 'chronic pain disorder' characterized by pain, fatigue, and sleep difficulties (Yunus, 2002). There is no established treatment for it (Badash, 2013). In the literature, however, traumatic experiences and chronic pain seem to be linked to each other. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy is recognized as an effective approach in the treatment of traumas (EMDR Institute, 2014). EMDR Fibromyalgia Protocol was specifically developed through a pilot study to offer an effective EMDR Therapy for fibromyalgia patients (in publish, Konuk et al., 2014). This study aims to recruit at most 30 people diagnosed with fibromyalgia for experimental group and at most 30 people diagnosed with fibromyalgia for control group. It aims to do pre-post and follow-up measurements through Demographic Information Form, Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), Visual Analog Scale (VAS), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale (PDS), Trauma Symptom Check-list 40 (TSC-40), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PUKI), World Health Organizatıon Quality of Life Assessment (WHOQOL) in order to examine the effectiveness of EMDR Fibromyalgia Protocol in fibromyalgia treatment and other psychological problems including depression and trauma related symptoms. We are expecting to see a significant decrease in fibromyalgia symptoms, depressive symptoms, post traumatic stress disorder symptoms and also an increase in the quality of life and the quality of sleep as a result of EMDR therapy.
An additional $15,000 research grant was awarded in December 2014 to the following:
Joyce Baptist, PhD, LCMFT, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS
Project Title – Developing Evidence-based Practice for EMDR for Depression
Added to the $10,000 award granted in September 2014, this totals $25,000 awarded for the research study. See the original September 2014 award for the abstract of this study.
One $10,000 research grant was awarded in September 2014 to the following:
Joyce Baptist, PhD, LCMFT, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS
Project Title – Developing Evidence-based Practice for EMDR for Depression
The primary purpose of this project is to further understand the neurological mechanisms of EMDR and to gain more evidence for the efficacy of EMDR in treating depression. This study aligns with EMDR Research Foundation's first research priority- to substantiate EMDR as an evidenced-based practice for depression. The two aims of the study are: 1) To test the efficacy of EMDR Therapy in reducing symptoms of depression, and 2) To determine brain activity and neuronal activation in participants receiving EMDR Therapy for depression. The study will employ a randomized controlled trail design and will examine the effects of bilateral ocular stimulation on the symptoms of depression. Changes in neurological functioning will be gathered using electroencephalograph (EEG) to record electrical activity resulting from neuronal activation.
One $1,000 research dissemination travel award grant was awarded in July 2014 to the following:
Lindsay Bira, M.S., University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fl
Project Title – Determining person-treatment fit for brief treatment of trauma in a community setting: Which interventions are best for whom?
This study, part of a larger NIH-funded study, compared three brief interventions (Psychological First Aid-PFA; Stress Management Therapy- SMT; and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing- EMDR) to determine whether certain interventions are better for certain types of people (considering gender, PTSD severity, substance abuse, childhood trauma, and borderline personality disorder) and trauma types (considering violent and bereavement related traumas).
Follow-up assessments were conducted at one, three and six months post-intervention and HLM analyses were used to test the hypotheses. Outcomes examined included PTSD symptoms, depression and physical symptoms. Examination of individual and trauma factors showed that EMDR worked best for those high in baseline PTSD and for those endorsing borderline personality disorders. Reduction of PTSD after trauma exposure was obtained in as few as four sessions.
The grant money will be used for travel expenses related to a presentation of these results at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) Annual Meeting in November.
One $1,000 research consultation award grant was awarded in February 2014 to the following:
Elaine Wynne, M.A., L.P. EMDRIA Certified Therapist & Approved Consultant | In collaboration with Joe Graca, Phd. And Hector Matascastillo, MSW, LICSW
Project Title - EMDR Outreach to Military Veterans—The Veterans Resilience Project of Minnesota
This Trauma Recovery / HAP - Veterans Resilience Project of MN sponsored outreach project has provided EMDR Therapy to veterans who would not otherwise receive EMDR treatment. It is intended that this project can serve as a template/model for future outreach projects.
While data collection has been an integral part of the project, the EMDR Research Foundation Consultation Award will be used to gain more expertise in data analysis.
Elaine writes: “The project has an outcome management system in place following CARF guidelines. Qualitative and quantitative measures of efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction have been utilized and data collection has been ongoing since the onset of the project. The data collection is being done with utmost effort to insure privacy and confidentiality. The project data base includes measures such as PCL's, IES, DES and PTGIs plus measures of efficiency and satisfaction. Project feedback questionnaires will be going out shortly to all therapists, veterans and stakeholders involved with the project.”
The authors anticipate that the findings will add to the body of published research on the effectiveness of EMDR with veterans. In addition it is anticipated that the data analysis can provide data driven feedback on what features work best as well as areas for improvement which could enhance the success of future EMDR outreach efforts.
2013 Research Award Recipients
One $1,000 research consultation award grant was awarded in December 2013 to the following:
Catherine M. Butler, Ed.D, MFT
Project Title - Comparing the Efficacy of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing to Treatment as Usual for Veterans with Military-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
One $10,000 research grant was awarded in September 2013 to the following:
W. Markus (PhD candidate), Dr. G. de Weert, Dr. C.A.J. de Jong, Dr. E.S. Becker, Dr. Hellen Hornsveld
Project Title - From feasibility to efficacy: the use of EMDR to reduce craving and drinking behavior in alcohol dependent outpatients - A multiple baseline study and RCT (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01828866)
The objectives of this study are to determine the acceptability, feasibility and efficacy of EMDR as an intervention to reduce craving and alcohol use in alcohol dependent outpatients and gain insight in working mechanisms. The study design is a randomized controlled trail (RCT) with out-patient alcohol-dependent patients (n=100) with 2 (parallel) groups and repeated measures amounting to a 2 x between participants design with group (EMDR + treatment as usual (TAU) vs. TAU) and time of assessment (pre- x post-intervention x 1 month x 6 months follow up) as factors. The study population is patients with a primary diagnosis of alcohol dependence, who receive out-patient treatment in a facility for addiction care, age ≥ 18. For the intervention, participants assigned to the experimental group will receive EMDR (aimed at drinking behaviour and craving) + treatment as usual (TAU). The comparison group will only receive TAU (Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA) treatment, consisting of several interventions, based on behavioural therapy principles (Meyers & Smith, 1995).
2015 update: Markus, W., de Weer - van Oene, G. H., Becker, E. S., & DeJong C. A. J. (2015). A multi-site randomized study to compare the effects of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) added to TAU versus TAU to reduce craving and drinking behavior in alcohol dependent outpatients: Study protocol. BMC Psychiatry, 15(51). doi:10.1186/s12888-015-0431-z. For full-text pdf, go to: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/s12888-015-0431-z.pdf
One $10,000 research grant was awarded in April 2013 to the following:
Michael L. Blair, Ph.D. and Kathy Harm, Ph.D. | Crittenton Children's Center | Kansas City, Missouri
Project Title - Children and Adolescents in an Inpatient Setting
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) will be applied to 100 children between the ages of 5-18 with random assignment of an equal number to participants in EMDR Therapy, or Skills-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Pre- and Post-tests will be given (Peterson-Quay, Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children, and a Follow-up Questionnaire), and other data will be collected (demographic information, medication therapies, treatment and placement histories, presenting problems, and length of stay). Analysis of Covariance between treatment conditions across subscales of the RBPC in order to factor out pretest variance from between group comparisons at post-test. Multivariate analysis is used insofar as no Total Score is provided for the RBPC. Separate analysis will be conducted for each dependent variable (TSCC and RPBC). This will be the first study to verify the efficacy of the use of EMDR with children and adolescents admitted to an inpatient acute psychiatric hospital
2012 Research Award Recipients
One $1,000 research consultation award grant was awarded to the following:
Mcayla Sarno, Psy.D., LMFT
Project title – EMDR 5 Day Intensive
This pilot study tested the effectiveness of applying five consecutive days of EMDR treatment to eight female participants with PTSD symptoms. The study employed 2 instruments—the PTSD Life Events Checklist (PCL) and the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). Two sub-scales were used: Re-experiencing Symptoms and Avoidance and Numbing Symptoms. Pre and post treatment, each participant completed the PCL and the CAPS. Traumatic experiences included childhood physical and/or sexual abuse, rape, death of a parent or spouse, and witnessing a suicide and a robbery. The mean score for the 8 participants was 3.46, indicating a high level of seriousness of life events. Following EMDR there was a statistically significant pre-post decrease in frequency of re-experiencing, avoidance and numbing symptoms. Likewise, there was a pre-post decrease in intensity of re-experiencing, avoidance and numbing symptoms.
One $5,000 dissertation grant was awarded in April 2012 to the following:
Catherine M. Butler | Argosy University | San Diego, California
Dissertation Title - An Evaluation of the Efficacy of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) as Compared to Treatment as Usual for Veterans with PTSD
The Department of Veterans Affairs states that 95% of all military members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of their military service. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has proven to be a successful treatment for military related PTSD, however it has not been recently studied. This study is a comparison of EMDR and Treatment as Usual (talk therapy) for veterans with military related PTSD over a 12 session course of treatment in a pre-, post, and follow up design. Future studies will replicate this project in order to 1) increase the pool of subjects, 2) establish the effectiveness of EMDR over a prolonged amount of time, and 3) continue to evaluate the decrease or eradication of PTSD symptoms in veterans.
This study won the first place research poster award at the 2014 EMDRIA Conference. Click here for a PDF of the poster.
One $10,000 research grant was awarded in June 2012 to the following:
Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. and Ruth Lanius, M.D., Ph.D.
Proposed Research Title - Functional Neuroanatomy of Bilateral Eye Movements During Trauma Script Imagery
Despite substantial evidence of its effectiveness in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (e.g., Bisson et al., 2007; Bradley, Greene, Russ, Dutra, & Westen, 2005, van der Kolk et al, 2005), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) remains a controversial treatment. Most of this controversy has centered on the necessity and function of the eye movements or other bilateral stimulation techniques in promoting symptom reduction and integration of traumatic memories. Although several possible mechanisms of action have been proposed, the functional neurobiology has not yet been elucidated (see reviews Gunter & Bodner, 2009; Maxfield, 2008). At present, few studies have attempted to directly study the functional neuroanatomy of EMDR. Thus, we propose a mechanistic fMRI study to examine the neurobiological mechanisms underlying horizontal saccadic eye movements during exposure to trauma script imagery. The proposed study aims to systematically test the hypothesis of increased thalamic activation and connectivity during EMDR through visualization of functional neurological activity during trauma script imagery with and without horizontal or vertical eye movements. We will use concurrent fMRI, EEG, heart-rate variability (HRV), and skin conductance measurements throughout the protocol, in order to correlate the various measures of psychophysiological functioning and attempt to provide information to assist with integrating previous research findings with varied measurements. We plan to recruit 40 participants: 20 participants without a history of psychiatric disorders and 20 participants with PTSD.
One $10,000 research grant was awarded in September 2012 to the following:
Kathleen Wheeler, Ph.D., APRN, FAAN; Ronald Ricci, Ph.D., Cheryl Clayton, LCSW, CSOTP, James Cole, Ed.D.
Project Title - A Randomized Clinical Trial of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Supportive Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in a Relapse Prevention Program (CBT-RP) for Sex Offenders: Treatment Effects and Long-Term Maintenance
This proposal seeks to determine the effectiveness of EMDR in treating sex offenders with Child Sexual Abuse through a randomized clinical trial. Twenty CBT therapists who lead mandated groups for sex offenders will complete Levels I and II EMDR training. From these CBT-Relapse Prevention groups, 90 participants will be recruited and randomized into one of three groups; CBT-RP group only, supportive psychotherapy with CBT-RP; and EMDR with CBT-RP, receiving 12 sessions, with pre, post, and follow-up at 12 and 24 months.
2011 Research Award Recipients
Two $10,000 research grants were awarded in November 2011 to the following:
Marco Pagani, Senior Researcher | Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, CNR in Rome & Padua, Italy
Research Team Member - Giampaolo Nicolais | Department of Psychology, University of Rome La Sapienza in Rome, Italy
Project Title - Pre- intra- and post-treatment EEG imaging of EMDR Therapy related changes in a cohort of patients and healthy controls
Electroencephalography (EEG) due to its peculiar time and spatial resolution will be used for the first time to fully monitor neuronal activation during a whole EMDR session including the autobiographical script. Twenty psychologically traumatised clients and 20 non symptomatic controls will be recruited for the study. Maximal cortical activations (Z-score>1.5) during the first EMDR session and during the last one, after the subjects will have processed the index trauma, will be evaluated by a dedicated EEG software (eLORETA). The prevalent activations as well as regional electric activity group differences between clients and controls will be assessed for all EEG bands (140 Hz) during both script listening and bilateral stimulation sets within the EMDR session and cortical maps will be created. Self administered neuropsychological tests will evaluate the subjective clinical status before and after therapy. The study aims to investigate the feasibility of EEG on-line monitoring of the cortical activations occurring during EMDR Therapy, more specifically during bilateral ocular desensitization and to disclose activation differences between clients and non symptomatic controls. Such complex methodology involving at the same time psychotherapists, physiologists, psychiatrists and EEG technicians makes possible to image for the first time the specific preferential brain activations caused by the therapeutic actions contemplated by EMDR protocol.
Preliminary findings have been published in European Psychiatry, 27, (Supplement 1), 1-1. doi:10.1016/S0924-9338(12)75329-4. Conclusions: “The implemented methodology made possible to image for the first time the specific activations associated with the therapeutic actions contemplated by EMDR. The findings suggest cognitive processing of traumatic events following successful EMDR Therapy supporting the evidence of distinct neurobiological patterns of brain activations during bilateral ocular stimulation associated with significant relief from negative emotional experiences.”
Benedikt Amann, MD, Ph.D. | Research Unit, FIDMAG - Hospital Benito Menni in Barcelona, Spain
Research Team Members - Dr. Antoni Pujadas, Dr. Edith Pomarol-Clotet, Dr. Peter J. McKenna, Dr. Pilar Salgado Pineada, Dr. Raymond Salvador Civil and Jose Ramon Landin-Romero
Project Title - A functional neuroimaging study in PTSD patients versus healthy controls before and after EMDR psychotherapy: implications for the neurobiological mechanism of action of EMDR
EMDR processes traumatic memories while patients are engaged in bilateral sensory stimulation. This intervention is of established clinical effectiveness but its underlying mechanism of action remains uncertain. Functional imaging changes are well-documented in PTSD, and recent evidence suggests that these include default mode network dysfunction. Imaging patients with PTSD before and after treatment with EMDR offers a means of determining which brain systems are involved in its therapeutic effect. Twenty patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for PTSD will receive 15-20 sessions of EMDR and will undergo pre- and post-treatment fMRI scanning during performance of trauma-evoking, emotional processing and working memory tasks. A resting state sequence will also be obtained for default mode network connectivity analysis. Pre-treatment scans in the patient group will be compared with those in a matched group of 20 healthy controls. We propose that EMDR will normalize pathological over- and/or under-activation in patients with PTSD. We also hypothesize that there will be treatment-related changes in cognitive-task-related de-activations and functional connectivity in the default mode network. We will examine to what extent any treatment-related changes correlate with clinical improvement. The results will help establish how and where EMDR exerts its therapeutic effects in the brain.
Two $10,000 research grants were awarded in May 2011 to the following:
Gail Ironson, MD, Ph.D. | University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL
Project title – The Effect of Three Treatments for Recent Trauma on Trauma-related Cognitions
This research project involves a comparison between three interventions (EMDR, stress management, and standard care) to “mitigate the development of PTSD and to protect the psychological and physical health in disadvantaged people.” “Aim 1: Effect of EMDR on outcome Variables: To determine the efficacy of EMDR compared to group administered stress management with a trauma focus (STRESS), and a psychological first aid control group on psychosocial and health outcome variables.” “Aim 2: Who benefits most from this brief intervention: predicting recovery for the outcome variables from the nature of the trauma, past trauma history, substance use, and borderline personality disorder?”
In September 2012, Dr. Ironson reports the preliminary results: In a study comparing the effectiveness of brief (4 sessions) treatment for acute traumatic stress, there was a significant effect of EMDR vs. Stress Management vs. Psychological First Aid on Post Traumatic Cognitions. People treated with EMDR had the largest reduction followed by SMT and people in the PFA condition did the worst. Findings were maintained at the 6-month follow-up. There was also a significant effect for the BDI at three months, and preliminary analyses of the 6 month data show a trend at 6 months (p=.08) but I have not yet done the analysis with HLM, so this is based on only subjects with complete data.
Michael Scheeringa, MD, MPH | Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA
Ana Gomez, MA, LPC | Phoenix, AZ
The aim of this research project is to evaluate the effectiveness of EMDR in “treating trauma-related depression in 6-17 year old children.” The children (n=40) will be randomly assigned to received either 8 sessions of EMDR or 8 sessions of standard treatment at a mental health clinic.
In August, 2012, Dr. Scheering and Ms Gomez reported that: "We currently have five completers in each group. For those in the EMDR group (n=5), there was a significant decrease in depression symptoms over time when assessed over all three time points – pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 3-months follow-up (repeated measures mixed models regression, p=.01) The test for whether EMDR was superior to ST was not significant (p=.14). However, when only the pre-treatment to post-treatment were looked at separately, the interaction term was significant (p=.04), indicating that EMDR was superior to ST for treating depression immediately post-treatment. With the addition of three new clinicians shortly, we hope to collect the additional subjects that will be needed to provide stronger support for the hypotheses. By the end of the project we hope to be able to publish these results and add meaningful new information to the literature on EMDR, and use these data."
2010 Research Award Recipient
One $5,000 dissertation grant was awarded to the following:
Sarah Schubert | Murdoch University in Australia
Ms. Schubert’s dissertation project is studying the underlying mechanisms of EMDR and its effectiveness to treat Timorese women suffering from PTSD. Given the pervasive war related trauma suffered by the Timorese people, the project closely aligns with Foundation’s interest in testing the effectiveness of EMDR in treating combat trauma.
In January 2016, Sarah wrote: "I am pleased to inform you that our research, which was made possible with the support of the EMDR Research Foundation, is in press with the Journal of Traumatic Stress. Our real world research that examined the effectiveness and underlying mechanisms of EMDR Therapy to treat trauma in Timor Leste has been written into two research papers. The first of the papers has been accepted for publication, and the second has been submitted to the Journal of EMDR Research and Practice."
- Schubert, S.J., Lee, C.W., de Araujo, G., Butler, S.R., Taylor, G. & Drummond, P. (2016). The effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to treat symptoms following trauma in Timor Leste. Journal of Traumatic Stress. Apr;29(2):141-8. doi: 10.1002/jts.22084. Epub 2016 Mar 2.
- Schubert, S.J., Lee, C.W. & Drummond, P. (submitted for review). Eye movements matter, but why? Psychophysiological correlates of EMDR Therapy to treat trauma in Timor Leste.
Apr;29(2):141-8. doi: 10.1002/jts.22084. Epub 2016 Mar 2.