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Open Access A Review of Mobile Applications for Facilitating EMDR Treatment of Complex Trauma and Its Comorbidities

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With the continued advancement in technology, there is a rise in the development and utilization of mobile health applications (mHealth apps) that claim to be using eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) theory and techniques to facilitate the therapeutic process. However, there are concerns regarding the quality of these apps and the safety of clients who may be using them, particularly for those who may present with complex posttraumatic conditions and associated comorbidities. Hence, this study evaluates current EMDR apps to determine their purpose, potential benefits, and risks when used by clients and/or clinicians. Twelve apps were found to be eligible for evaluation and are rated on applicability, validity, accuracy, and usefulness. Currently, our review concludes that none of the EMDR apps are recommended for use by a client. Only 6 of the 12 apps would be recommended for use by a trained clinician as a tool to aid with EMDR treatment, provided the clinician were able to offer a safe environment that could adapt to the selected technology. Risks of using EMDR apps include safety concerns with unregulated use, particularly for clients with complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and comorbid conditions, such as dysregulated emotions or cognitions, and concerns regarding cyber security and data privacy. Clinical implications for the use of technology and mHealth apps are discussed, and recommendations for the development of an ideal EMDR app for the future are provided.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2018

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