Self-administered EMDR therapy: Potential solution for expanding the availability of psychotherapy for PTSD or unregulated recipe for disaster?
Self-administered psychological therapies are efficacious for many mental illnesses, including PTSD, and increase access to treatment.
“Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) carries a high disease burden worldwide, yet significant barriers exist to providing and accessing treatment for PTSD, particularly in refugee populations and in low- and middle-income countries. There is emerging evidence that self-administered psychological therapies, such as those accessed via online and mobile applications, are efficacious for many mental illnesses and increase access to treatment. Online and mobile applications offering self-help tools for eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, an internationally recommended treatment for PTSD, are already widely distributed to the public.
Aims: To present a commentary evaluating the potential benefits and risks of self-administered EMDR therapy: first, by conducting a search for existing peer-reviewed evidence relating to self-administered EMDR therapy; second, by presenting existing evidence for other self-help psychotherapies and evaluating what additional insight this could provide into the potential efficacy, safety, tolerability and accessibility of self-administered EMDR therapy; and, third, by describing the conflicting views of EMDR experts on the topic.
Method: A search was conducted for articles related to internet, mobile, book or computerised self-help EMDR therapy. The following databases were searched systematically: Medline, PsycInfo, EMBASE, AMED, CINAHL, Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Cochrane Database and the EMDR Library.
Results: Only one small primary research study was found relating to self-administered EMDR therapy. The results indicated significantly reduced symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, distress and disability between pre-treatment and 3 month follow-up. No serious adverse events were reported. However, substantial methodological issues were discovered.
Conclusions: There is evidence that self-administered psychotherapies, in general, can be safe, effective and highly accessible. However, controversies persist regarding the safety and potential efficacy of self-administered EMDR therapy, and more robust research is needed. It is vital that methods are found to improve worldwide access to effective PTSD treatment, particularly given the current scale of migration to flee civil unrest.”
—Description from publisher
Waterman, L. Z., & Cooper, M. (2020). Self-administered EMDR therapy: Potential solution for expanding the availability of psychotherapy for PTSD or unregulated recipe for disaster? British Journal of Psych Open, 6, e115, 1-9. Open access: https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2020.92
About the Journal
“BJPsych Open is a high-quality, online-only open access journal for the publication of all methodologically sound research in psychiatry and disciplines related to mental health.”
—Description from publisher
Cambridge University Press
Copyright © The Authors, 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Self-administered EMDR therapy: Potential solution for expanding the availability of psychotherapy for PTSD or unregulated recipe for disaster? British Journal of Psych Open, 6, e115, 1-9. Open access: https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2020.92
EMDR Therapists, Other Mental Health Professionals
External Resource, Open Access