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Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing versus exposure in vivo: A single-session crossover study of spider-phobic children

  • Peter Muris (a1), Harald Merckelbach (a1), Hans Van Haaften (a1) and Birgit Mayer (a1)

Abstract

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 viv. 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 viv. 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 viv. was found to be superior in reducing avoidance behaviour. With regard to skin conductance level, EMDR and exposure in viv. did not differ.

Conclusions

EMDR has no additional value in treatment of this type of animal phobia, for which exposure in viv. is the treatment of choice.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Peter Muris, Department of Psychology, University of Maastricht, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands

References

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Kindt, M., Brosschot, J. F. & Murls, P. (1996) Spider Phobia Questionnaire for Children (SPQ-C): a psychometric study and normative data. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 34, 277282.
Muris, P. & Merckelbach, H. (1995) Treating spider phobia with eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing: two case reports. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 9, 439449.
Muris, P. & Merckelbach, H. (1997) Treating spider phobics with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: a controlled study. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 25, 17.
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Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing versus exposure in vivo: A single-session crossover study of spider-phobic children

  • Peter Muris (a1), Harald Merckelbach (a1), Hans Van Haaften (a1) and Birgit Mayer (a1)
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