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