Evidenced-Based Practice and EMDR

Evidence-Based Practice, or EBP, is most commonly defined as “the conscious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient. It means integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research” (Sackett, 1996). The three components of EBP include the clinician’s expertise, the patient’s values and preferences, and the best research evidence that utilizes sound research methodology. Combined, these three factors help providers to make clinical decisions for their clients that offer the opportunity for optimal clinical outcomes and increased quality of life.

Division 12 of the American Psychological Association maintains a list of empirically supported treatments, some of which include Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Exposure Therapies, all of which are offered at Front Range Treatment Center.

I was recently asked whether Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, was considered an evidenced based treatment and the answer is: kind of, but not really

EMDR was created in 1980’s by Francine Shapiro, who noticed after a walk in the woods that moving her eyes back and forth while observing her surroundings helped alleviate disturbing thoughts that she was having. Thirty plus years of research has yielded a range of results. Studies have shown that EMDR reduces symptoms of PTSD compared to control groups who receive no treatment, although research using appropriate methodology comparing EMDR to exposure therapies has found no difference in outcomes.

Therefore, EMDR may be effective, but the underlying mechanism may be exposure rather than eye movements. EMDR practitioners assert that EMDR is empirically supported and more effective than traditional treatments; however, more research is needed, especially regarding the eye movements, before it can be considered an evidenced based treatment.