What have meta-analyses revealed about EMDR?
EMDR therapy has been compared to numerous psychotherapy protocols. It should be noted that trauma-focused CBT and exposure therapy use one to two hours of daily homework and EMDR uses none. The most recent meta-analyses are listed here.
Bisson, J., Roberts, N.P., Andrew, M., Cooper, R. & Lewis, C. (2013). Psychological therapies for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003388.pub4
Research indicates that CBT and EMDR therapy are superior to all other treatments.
Bradley, R., Greene, J., Russ, E., Dutra, L., & Westen, D. (2005). A multidimensional meta-analysis of psychotherapy for PTSD. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162, 214-227.
EMDR is equivalent to exposure and other cognitive behavioral treatments and all “are highly efficacious in reducing PTSD symptoms.”
Davidson, P.R., & Parker, K.C.H. (2001). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69, 305-316.
EMDR therapy is equivalent to exposure and other cognitive behavioral treatments.
Lee, C.W. & Cuijpers, P. (2013). A meta-analysis of the contribution of eye movements in processing emotional memories. Journal of Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry, 44, 231-239.
The effect size for the additive effect of eye movements in EMDR treatment studies was moderate and significant (Cohen’s d = 0.41). For the second group of laboratory studies the effect size was large and significant (d = 0.74).
Maxfield, L., & Hyer, L.A. (2002). The relationship between efficacy and methodology in studies investigating EMDR treatment of PTSD. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58, 23-41.
A comprehensive meta-analysis reported the more rigorous the study, the larger the effect.
Rodenburg, R., Benjamin, A., de Roos, C, Meijer, A.M., & Stams, G.J. (2009). Efficacy of EMDR in children: A meta – analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 599-606.
Results indicate efficacy of EMDR when effect sizes are based on comparisons between EMDR and non-established trauma treatment or no-treatment control groups, and incremental efficacy when effect sizes are based on comparisons between EMDR and established (CBT) trauma treatment.
Seidler, G.H., & Wagner, F.E. (2006). Comparing the efficacy of EMDR and trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of PTSD: a meta-analytic study. Psychological Medicine, 36, 1515-1522.
Results suggest that in the treatment of PTSD, both therapy methods tend to be equally efficacious.
Watts, B.V. et al. (2013). Meta-analysis of the efficacy of treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 74, e541-550. doi: 10.4088/JCP.12r08225
CBT and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing were the most often-studied types of psychotherapy. Both were effective.