BACKGROUND Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a relatively new therapeutic technique that has been proposed as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety complaints.
METHOD We compared the efficacy of EMDR with that of exposure in vivo in the treatment of a specific phobia. Twenty-two spider-phobic children who met the DSM-III-R criteria for specific phobia participated in the study. Children were treated with one session of exposure in vivo and one session of EMDR in a crossover design. Treatment outcome was evaluated by self-report measures, a behavioural avoidance test and a physiological index (skin conductance level).
RESULTS Results showed positive effects of EMDR, but also suggest that it is especially self-report measures that are sensitive to EMDR. Improvement on a behavioural measure was less pronounced, and exposure in vivo was found to be superior in reducing avoidance behaviour. With regard to skin conductance level, EMDR and exposure in vivo did not differ.
CONCLUSIONS EMDR has no additional value in treatment of this type of animal phobia, for which exposure in vivo is the treatment of choice.