Open Access EMDR Treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Preliminary Research

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This article reports the results of two experiments, each investigating a different eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) protocol for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and each with two young adult male participants with long-standing unremitting OCD. Two adaptations of Shapiro's (2001) phobia protocol were developed, based on the theoretical view that OCD is a self-perpetuating disorder, with OCD compulsions and obsessions and current triggers reinforcing and maintaining the disorder. Both adaptations begin by addressing current obsessions and compulsions, instead of working on past memories; one strategy delays the cognitive installation phase; the other uses mental video playback in the desensitization of triggers. The four participants received 14–16 one-hour sessions, with no assigned homework. They were assessed with the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), with scores at pretreatment in the extreme range (mean = 35.3). Symptom improvement was reported by participants after 2 or 3 sessions. Scores at posttreatment were in the subclinical/mild range for all participants (mean = 8.5). Follow-up assessments were conducted at 4–6 months, indicating maintenance of treatment effects (mean = 7.5). Symptom reduction was 70.4% at posttreatment and 76.1% at follow-up for the Adapted EMDR Phobia Protocol and 81.4% at posttreatment and at follow-up for the Adapted EMDR Phobia Protocol with Video Playback. Theoretical implications are discussed, and future research is recommended.
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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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