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Is EMDR applied to every clinical disorder?

No. EMDR was developed as a treatment for traumatic memories and research has demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of PTSD (see Is EMDR an efficacious treatment for PTSD?). Shapiro (2001) states that it should be helpful in reducing or eliminating other disorders that originate following a distressing experience. For example, Brown, McGoldrick, and Buchanan (1997) found successful remission in five of seven consecutive cases of Body Dysmorphic Disorder cases after 1-3 EMDR sessions that processed the etiological memory. Similarly there have been reports of elimination of phantom limb pain following EMDR treatment of the etiological memory and the pain sensations (Vanderlaan, 2000; Wilensky, 2000; S. A. Wilson, Tinker, Becker, Hofmann, & Cole, 2000). It is not anticipated that EMDR will be able to alleviate fully the symptoms arising from physiologically based disorders, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. However, experiential contributors may play a major role in some symptoms, and there are anecdotal reports of persons with such disorders being treated successfully with EMDR for distress related to traumatic events.

In addition to studies assessing the effectiveness of EMDR in the treatment of PTSD, phobias, and panic disorders (see Is EMDR an effective treatment of phobias, panic disorder, and agoraphobia?), some preliminary investigations have indicated that EMDR might be helpful with other disorders. These include dissociative disorders (e.g, Fine & Berkowitz, 2001; Lazrove & Fine, 1996; Paulsen, 1995); performance anxiety (Foster & Lendl, 1996; Maxfield & Melnyk, 2000); body dysmorphic disorder (Brown et al., 1997); pain disorder (Grant & Threlfo, 2002); and personality disorders (e.g., Korn & Leeds, 2002; Manfield, 1998). These findings are preliminary and further research is required before any conclusions can be drawn. In Shapiro, 2002, applications of EMDR are described for complaints such as depression (Shapiro, 2002), attachment disorder (Siegel, 2002), social phobia (Smyth, & Poole, 2002), anger dyscontrol (Young, Zangwill, & Behary , 2002), generalized anxiety disorder (Lazarus, & Lazarus , 2002), distress related to infertility (Bohart & Greenberg, 2002), body image disturbance (Brown, 2002), marital discord (Kaslow, Nurse, & Thompson, 2002), and existential angst (Krystal, Prendergast, Krystal, Fenner, Shapiro, Shapiro, 2002); all such applications should be considered in need of controlled research for comprehensive examination.