Elevated psychophysiological parameters and heightened physiological reactivity to trauma-related cues are acquired changes following trauma exposure. Measuring improvement in these variables is an appropriate evaluation of outcome in treatment studies. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a computerized measure of physiological responsivity derived from Holter ECG recording. Four female outpatients with persistent post-traumatic symptoms and personal impairment following “small t” trauma exposure underwent a course of EMDR treatment and were assessed at baseline, end of treatment, day 30 and day 90 of follow-up, using self-report symptom scales and 90-min Holter ECG recordings. Symptom scores decreased between baseline and end of treatment, with improvement maintained at follow-up. Several HRV measures changed favorably in different recording intervals. HRV is a feasible and sensitive method to measure physiological changes in the treatment of individuals distressed by “small t” trauma. Further investigation is advisable to expand these preliminary data.
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Frustaci, A., Lanza, G. A., Fernandez, I., di Giannantonio, M., & Pozzi, G. (2010). Changes in Psychological Symptoms and Heart Rate Variability During EMDR Treatment: A Case Series of Subthreshold PTSD. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 4(1), 3–11. https://doi.org/10.1891/1933-3126.96.36.199
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research