The Current Status of EMDR Therapy, Specific Target Areas, and Goals for the Future

Suzy J.M.A. Matthijssen, Christopher W. Lee, Carlijn de Roos, Ian G. Barron, Ignacio Jarero, Elan Shapiro, E. C. Hurley, Sarah J. Schubert, Joyce Baptist, Benedikt L. Amann, Ana Moreno-Alcázar, Jonas Tesarz, Ad de Jongh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


While eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is considered an evidence-based treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults, there are differences as to how various international treatment guidelines judge the strength of this evidence base. Furthermore, in areas other than adult PTSD, major guidelines differ even more as to the strength of the evidence base and when to use EMDR. In 2019, the Council of Scholars: The Future of EMDR Therapy Project was initiated. Several working groups were established, with one assigned to the focus area of research. This article is a product of that working group. Firstly the group concluded that there were five areas where there was some base that EMDR was effective, but more data were needed to increase the likelihood that it would be considered in future international treatment guidelines. These areas were PTSD in children and adolescents, early EMDR interventions, combat PTSD, unipolar depression, and chronic pain. In addition, research into cost-effectiveness of EMDR therapy was identified as one of the priorities. A hierarchical system was used for classifying and rating evidence in the focus areas. After assessing the 120 outcome studies pertaining to the focus areas, we conclude that for two of the areas (i.e., PTSD in children and adolescents and EMDR early interventions research) the strength of the evidence is rated at the highest level, whereas the other areas obtain the second highest level. Some general recommendations for improving the quality of future research on the effectiveness of EMDR therapy are formulated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-284
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of EMDR Practice and Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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