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Meta-Analysis Comparing EMDR & CBT for Adult Traumatic Stress

01 Oct

Researchers from Shihezi University in China analyzed the literature and conducted a meta-analysis to compare the efficacy of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for adult posttraumatic stress disorder.

They searched Medline, PubMed, Ebsco, Proquest, and Cochrane (1989-2013) to identify relevant randomized control trials comparing EMDR and CBT for PTSD. They included 11 studies (N = 424).

Although all the studies had methodological limitations, meta-analyses for total PTSD scores revealed that EMDR was slightly superior to CBT.

Cumulative meta-analysis confirmed this and a meta-analysis for subscale scores of PTSD symptoms indicated that EMDR was better for decreased intrusion and arousal severity compared to CBT. Avoidance was not significantly different between groups.

They conclude that EMDR may be more suitable than CBT for PTSD patients with prominent intrusion or arousal symptoms. However, the limited number and poor quality of the original studies included suggest caution when drawing final conclusions

Citation: Chen L1, Zhang G, Hu M, Liang X. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing versus cognitive-behavioral therapy for adult posttraumatic stress disorder: systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 2015 Jun; 203 (6): pp. 443-51.

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.