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Open Access The Effectiveness of EMDR in Reducing Psychological Distress in Survivors of Natural Disasters: A Review

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Natural disasters affect whole communities both at an individual level as well as economically and socially. However, the impact of natural disasters on an individual's mental health is substantial; yet, the response to one's mental health needs after a disaster is underdeveloped. Nevertheless, the Humanitarian Assistance Programme has attempted to address these needs by providing eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to natural disaster survivors. This systematic review provides evidence for the effectiveness and efficacy of EMDR in the treatment of psychological distress in survivors of natural disasters. Of the 8 studies reviewed, 4 were controlled trials and 1 study part-controlled. All the studies demonstrated statistical and clinical significance in reducing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, anxiety, depression, and other distress experienced by survivors of natural disasters. In addition, 4 of the 8 studies demonstrated clinical significance after just 1 session, presenting EMDR as resource-, time-, and cost-efficient intervention. Theoretical framework, adaptation in intervention, methodological issues, and quality assessment of studies are discussed. Implications for future research and clinical practice are also discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2014

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