Skip to main content

Effect of the EMDR Psychotherapeutic Approach on Emotional Cognitive Processing in Patients with Depression

  • Myrna Estela Rosas Uribe (a1), Ernesto O. López Ramírez (a2) and Ignacio Jarero Mena (a3)

The current investigation, framed within the emotional cognitive science field, was conducted with three patients with major depression. They participated in a therapeutic process which involved EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Data were obtained in the clinical practice through a longitudinal one subject study design, including: emotional valence identification within affective priming experiments; and depressive emotional representation studies, the data of which was analyzed using multi-dimensional scaling. The first ones had the purpose of observing the therapeutic impact over the emotional cognitive bias mechanism regarding depresogenic words related to traumatic experiences; and the second, to analyze modifications on depressive schemata. The results showed that EMDR had a positive effect both on emotional cognitive processing and on long-term memory conceptual organization. In the discussion section, interesting remarks are made on the incorporation of emotional cognitive science tools to the EMDR clinical practice.

La presente investigación enmarcada en el campo de la ciencia cognitiva de la emoción, se llevó a cabo en tres personas, que fueron diagnosticadas con depresión mayor y que participaron en un proceso terapéutico que involucró la aproximación EMDR (por sus siglas en inglés -Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing-). La recolección de datos se realizó en la práctica clínica mediante el diseño de estudios longitudinales de un solo sujeto, dentro de los cuales se consideraron a la vez estudios de identificación de valencia emocional bajo el paradigma de facilitación afectiva, y de análisis de representación emocional depresiva bajo la técnica de escalamiento multidimensional. Los primeros se realizaron para observar los cambios en el mecanismo de sesgo cognitivo emocional sobre las palabras depresogénicas relacionadas a experiencias traumáticas y los segundos, para analizar cómo se modificaban los esquemas depresogénicos. Los resultados muestran que EMDR impactó tanto el procesamiento cognitivo de la información emocional, como la organización conceptual en memoria a largo plazo. En la sección de la discusión se hacen señalamientos interesantes sobre la integración de las herramientas de la ciencia cognitiva de la emoción a la práctica clínica.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Myrna Estela Rosas Uribe. Universidad Veracruzana. Sistema de Enseñanza Abierta. E-mail:
Hide All
Abramson L. Y., Metalsky G. I.& Alloy L. B. (1989). Hopelessness depression: A theory based subtype of depression. Psychological Review, 96, 358372.
American Psychiatric Association (2003). DSM-IV-TR: Manual diagnóstico y estadístico de los trastornos mentales texto revisado. Washington, DC: Author.
Beck A. T. (1979). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders. Nueva York: International Universities Press.
Beck A. T., Rush A. J., Shaw B. E.& Emery G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. Nueva York: Guilford Press.
Beck A. T., Steer R. A.& Brown G. K. (1996). Beck depression inventory, second edition: Manual. EU: The Psychological Corporation.
Bennett-Goleman T. (2002). Emotional alchemy: How the mind can heal the heart. Nueva York: Harmony Books.
Bishop S., Miller I. W., Norman W., Buda M.& Foulke M. (1986). Cognitive therapy of psychotic depression: A case report. Psychotherapy 23, 167173.
Bower G. H. (1981). Mood and memory. American psychologist, 36, 129148.
Bower G. H. (1987). Commentary on mood and memory. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 25, 443455.
Carlson J. G., Chemtob C. M., Rusnak K., Hedlund N. L.& Muraoka M. Y. (1998). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 11, 324.
Dalgleish T., Taghavi R., Doost H. N., Moradi A., Yule W.& Canterbury R. (1997). Information processing in clinically depressed and anxious children. Journal of Child Psychology, Psychiatry, 38(5), 535541.
Fazio R. H., Sanbonmatsu D. M., Powell M. C.& Kardes F. R. (1986). On the automatic activation of attitudes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50(2), 229238.
Feske U. (1998). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 5, 171181.
Friendly M. (1979). Methods for finding graphic representations of associative memory structures. In Puff C. R. (Ed.), Memory organization and structure. Nueva York: Academic Press.
Greenberger D.& Padesky Ch. (1998). El control de tu estado de ánimo: Manual de tratamiento de terapia cognitiva para usuarios. Barcelona: Paidós.
Hudlicka E. (2004). Beyond cognition: Modeling emotion in cognitive architectures. In Erlbaum L. (Ed.), Proceedings of the sixth international conference on cognitive modeling (118123). Mahwah, NJ: Autor.
Ironson G. I., Freund B., Strauss J. L.& Williams J. (2002). A comparison of two treatments for traumatic stress: A community based study of EMDR and prolonged exposure. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58, 113128.
MacLeod C. (1997). The locus of implicit-explicit dissociation in mood congruent memory. In Payne D.G. & Conrad F.C. (Eds.), Intersections in basic and applied memory research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Marcus S., Marquis P.& Sakai C. (1997). Controlled study of treatment of PTSD using EMDR in a HMO setting. Psychotherapy, 34, 307315.
Martin L. L., Shrira L.& Startup H. M. (2004). Rumination as a function of goal progress, stop rules and cerebral lateralization. In Papageorgiou C. & Wells A. (Ed.), Depressive rumination: Nature, theory and treatment. Londres: Wiley.
Martin L. L.& Tesser A. (1996). Some ruminative thoughts. In Wyer R. S. (Ed.), Advances in social cognition, Vol. 9, (pp. 147). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Maxfield L.& Hyer L. A. (2002). The relationship between efficacy and methodology in studies investigating EMDR treatment of PTSD. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58, 2341.
Mog K.& Bradley B. P. (2000). Selective attention and anxiety: A cognitive-motivational perspective. In Dalgleish T. & Power M. (Ed.), Handbook of cognition and emotion. Nueva York: Wiley.
Monson C. M.& Friedman M. J. (2006). Back to the future of understanding trauma: Implications for cognitive-behavioral therapies for trauma. In Follette V. M. & Ruzek J. I. (Eds.), Cognitive behavioral therapies for trauma (pp. 115). New York: Guilford Press.
Musch J.& Klauer K. C. (2003). The psychology of evaluation: An introduction. In Musch J. & Klauer K. C. (Ed.), The psychology of evaluation: Affective processes in cognition and emotion. Nueva Jersey: LEA.
Parker G. (2002). Dealing with depression: A commonsense guide to mood disorders. Australia: Allen & Unwin.
Power M. J.& Dalgleish T. (1998) Cognition in the context of emotion: The case of depression. In Quelhas A. C. & Pereira F. (Eds.), Cognition and context, No. especial de Analise Psycologica (pp. 381413). Lisboa: Instituto Superior de Psicología Aplicada.
Rothbaum B. O. (1997). A controlled study of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for posttraumatic stress disordered sexual assault victims. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 61, 317334.
Rush A. J.& Beck A. T. (2000). Cognitive therapy. In Kaplan H. I. & Sadock B. J. (Eds.), Comprehensive handbook of psychiatry (7a. ed.). Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.
Scherer K. R. (1984a). Emotion as a multi-component process: A model and some cross cultural data. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Scherer K. R. (1984b). Emotion as a multi-component process. In Shaver P. (Ed.), Review of personality and social psychology: Emotions, relationships and health, Vol. 5 (pp. 3763). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Scherer K. R. (1987). Toward a dynamic theory of emotion: The component process model of affective states. Geneva Studies in Emotion and Communication, 1, 198 desde URL://
Scherer K. R. (2001). Appraisal considered as a process of multilevel sequential checking. In Scherer K. R., Schorr A. & Johnstone T. (Ed.), Appraisal processes in emotion: Theory, methods, research. New York: Oxford University Press.
Shapiro F. (1989a). Eye movement desensitization: a new treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 20, 211217.
Shapiro F. (1989b). Efficacy of the eye movement desensitization procedure in the treatment of traumatic memories. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2, 199223.
Shapiro F. (1993). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in 1992. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 6, 417421.
Shapiro F. (1994). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: A new treatment for anxiety and related trauma. In Hyer Lee (Ed.), Trauma victim: Theoretical and practical suggestions (pp. 501521). Muncie, Indiana: Accelerated Development Publishers.
Shapiro F. (1995). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Basic principles, protocols and procedures. Nueva York: Guilford Press.
Shapiro F. (2002). Paradigms, processing and personality development. In Shapiro F. (Ed.), EMDR as an integrative psychotherapy approach: Experts of diverse orientations explore the paradigm prism. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Books.
Shapiro F. (2004). EMDR: Desensibilización y reprocesamiento por medio de movimiento ocular. México: Editorial Pax.
Shapiro F. (2005). Manual de entrenamiento. Pacific Grove, CA: Autor.
Siegle G. J. (1996). Rumination on affect: Cause for negative attention biases in depression. Unpublished master thesis, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University.
Siegle G. J. (1999). Cognitive and Physiological aspects of attention to personally relevant negative information in depression. Unpublished Ph, D, thesis, Department of Psychology, San Diego State University.
Siegle G. J. (2001). A neural network model of attentional biases in depression. In Reggia J. & Ruppin E. (Eds.), Disorders of brain, behavior, and cognition: The neurocomputational perspective (pp. 415441). Amsterdan: Elsevier.
Spector J.& Read J. (1999). The current status of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 6, 165174.
Van Etten M. L.& Taylor S. (1998). Comparative efficacy of treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 5, 126144.
Wells A. (2009). Metacognitive therapy for anxiety and depression. New York: Guilford Press
Williams J. M. G., Watts F. N., MacLeod C.& Mathews A. (1997). Cognitive psychology and emotional disorders (2a. ed.). Chichester: Wiley.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Spanish Journal of Psychology
  • ISSN: 1138-7416
  • EISSN: 1988-2904
  • URL: /core/journals/spanish-journal-of-psychology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 24 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 296 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.