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Open Access EMDR in the Treatment of Chronic Pain

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Chronic pain can significantly diminish life quality, causing depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances, and may lead to neuroplastic processes that influence pain modulation. The current study investigated eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) treatment of 38 patients suffering from chronic pain with 12 weekly 90-minute sessions. A battery of self-reported questionnaires assessing quality of life, pain intensity, and depression level were administered pre- and posttreatment for objective outcome evaluation. The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM was administered at pretreatment to identify participants' personality traits that may influence pain perception. Patients showed statistically significant improvement relative to baseline after 12 weeks of EMDR treatment. Our findings suggest that EMDR is an effective tool in the psychological treatment of chronic pain, resulting in decrease pain sensations, pain-related negative affect, and anxiety and depression levels. We examine possible theories about the mechanisms by which EMDR achieves these effects. Results were consistent with the underlying EMDR premise that posits the important effect of emotions on pain perception.

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Keywords: CHRONIC PAIN; EMDR; NEUROPLASTIC PROCESSES; PAIN MODULATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-05-01

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  • The Journal of EMDR Practice and Research is a quarterly, peer-reviewed publication devoted to integrative, state-of-the-art papers about Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a broadly conceived interdisciplinary journal that stimulates and communicates research and theory about EMDR, and their application to clinical practice.
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