Bilateral stimulation is one of the key differentiators of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy that has gained popularity in recent years for its effectiveness in treating trauma, anxiety, and other mental health issues. However, there has been some controversy surrounding EMDR and whether there is good science to support it as a therapy technique. In this article, we will explore the current state of scientific research on EMDR therapy.
What is EMDR?
EMDR is a form of therapy that was developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Francine Shapiro. The therapy involves a series of synchronized eye movements, audio stimulations, and physical feedback that are designed to help individuals process traumatic experiences and reduce the intensity of associated emotional and physical reactions. During an EMDR session, a therapist will ask the patient to recall a traumatic experience while also performing a series of eye movements, tapping, or other forms of bilateral stimulation.
The Science Behind EMDR
While EMDR has gained popularity as an effective form of therapy, some have raised questions about the science behind it. Critics have argued that the therapy is based on pseudoscience and lacks empirical support.
However, the scientific research on EMDR suggests that the therapy may be effective in treating trauma and other mental health issues. A 2014 meta-analysis of 26 studies found that EMDR was an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that it was just as effective as other established therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Another meta-analysis of 19 studies found that EMDR was more effective than control conditions in reducing symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, a randomized controlled trial of 105 individuals with PTSD found that EMDR was more effective than a control group at reducing PTSD symptoms, anxiety, and depression.
While the research on EMDR is promising, some have criticized the studies for being too small or for lacking rigorous control groups. This is partly solved by aggregating trials to show clearly that EMDR has a positive effect. You should consult your therapist to understand if EMDR is for you.
Overall, the current state of scientific research on EMDR suggests that it is an effective treatment for trauma, anxiety, and other mental health issues. While there is still much to learn about how EMDR works and which patients are most likely to benefit from it, the research is promising. As with any form of therapy, it is important to work with a trained and licensed therapist who can tailor the treatment to your specific needs and circumstances.