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Open Access Adult PTSD and Its Treatment With EMDR: A Review of Controversies, Evidence, and Theoretical Knowledge

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This article provides an overview of selective issues relating to adult posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its treatment with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). The article begins by providing a historical overview of PTSD, and debates about the etiology and definition of PTSD are discussed. The most predominant theories of PTSD are summarized by highlighting how they have evolved from traditional behavioral accounts based on the assumption that PTSD is an anxiety disorder to theories that now incorporate information-processing models. This article then examines the development of EMDR and the corresponding body of research that clearly demonstrates its efficacy for the treatment for adult PTSD. The underlying mechanisms of EMDR are discussed, with a focus on the importance of the eye movement component and how the therapeutic processes in EMDR differ from those of traditional exposure therapy. Finally, the adaptive information-processing (AIP) model that underlies EMDR is outlined, and evidence for the model is summarized. The article concludes by suggesting future research based on questions raised about PTSD and its treatment with EMDR when the AIP model is compared to other information-based theories of PTSD.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-08-01

More about this publication?
  • 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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