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Open Access Evaluating the Efficacy of EMDR With Grieving Individuals: A Randomized Control Trial

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This study compared the effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) with an integrated cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention for grief. Nineteen participants (12 females and 7 males) who identified themselves as struggling with grief were randomly allocated to treatment conditions. Each participant was wait-listed for 7 weeks and then received 7 weeks of therapy. There were no significant improvements on any measure in the wait-list period. In contrast, participants in both treatment groups improved on measures of grief (ηp 2 = .47), trauma symptoms (ηp 2 = .60), and distress (ηp 2 = .34). There was no significant improvement in participants' scores on a quality of life measure (ηp 2 = .11). Neither treatment approach produced better outcomes than the other. For those who scored in the clinical range at intake, 72% achieved clinical and reliable change on the grief measure and 82% on the trauma measure. The study had several strengths, including randomization to treatment condition, multiple therapists, formal assessment of treatment fidelity, and the pretreatment and follow-up assessments were conducted by researchers blind to treatment assignment. Overall, the findings indicate that EMDR and CBT are efficacious in assisting those struggling with grief, and that those individuals reporting higher levels of distress and lower levels of functioning may benefit the most from an intervention.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2016

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