EMDR has been characterized as pseudoscience, because the underlying theory is unfalsifiable. In addition, the results of therapy are not specific, especially if the eye movement component is irrelevant to the results. This is because the theory behind EMDR isn't scientific at all, says Lohr. The creators of EMDR developed the therapy based on research that showed that rapid eye movement aided memory processing during sleep.
Therefore, they theorized that inducing rapid eye movements while a patient recalled a traumatic event would help the subject to process and understand that memory more quickly. When scientists compared EMDR to imaginary exposure, they found little or no difference. Nor have they found that EMDR works faster than imaginary exposure. Most researchers have taken these findings to mean that EMDR results are derived from exposure, as this treatment requires clients to view traumatic images repeatedly.
Finally, researchers have found scant evidence that EMDR's eye movements are contributing anything to its effectiveness. When researchers compared EMDR to a “fixed eye movement” condition, in which clients keep their eyes fixed forward, they have found no difference between the conditions. In light of these findings, the panoply of hypotheses invoked for EMDR eye movements seems to be “explanations in search of a phenomenon”. However, after a more detailed analysis, it seems that the empirical foundation of EMDR, in particular its theoretical foundation, lacks scientific qualities.
As mentioned above, an authentic scientific method largely depends on the concept of falsifiability (Herbert, Lilienfeld, Lohr, Montgomery, O'Donohue, Rosen, Tolin, in press 2000), the possibility of proving that a prediction or theory is false. EMDR violates this law simply by introducing complementary theories to account for empirical results that deny its effectiveness. In essence, the development of EMDR consists of propositions of numerous theories, which disguise themselves as scientific, but which cannot be proven empirically in a meaningful way. Due to continuous modifications, EMDR theories are relatively consistent with every conceivable empirical event and, consequently, no prediction derived from these theories could falsify them (Herbert, Lilienfeld, Lohr, Montgomery, O'Donohue, Rosen, Tolin, in press 2000).
This effort to appear scientific is part of what qualifies EMDR as pseudoscience, rather than outright nonsense. It's also partly why so many mental health doctors have decided to adopt the treatment. Although research evidence on this front is less extensive, most studies indicate that EMDR yields more improvements than control conditions in which therapists simply listen closely to client problems, but do not attempt to intervene directly. It is called Eye Movement Desensibilization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and first entered the field of clinical psychology in the late 1980s.
In addition, because patients' testimonies appeared to support the effectiveness of EMDR and because rigorous scientific evidence was slow to refute these claims, many psychologists and therapists had no reason to doubt that EMDR worked. Instead, let's try a very popular variant of therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Along with their therapists, EMDR clients also learn to replace negative thoughts (such as “I'll never get this job”) with more positive thoughts (such as “I can get this job if I try hard enough). Such attempts include the notion that EMDR alters clients' perceptions of selected feelings by obstructing the way they are actually experienced, or that forward and backward eye movements produce a ping-pong effect between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
Since several of the studies supporting the effectiveness of EMDR have made significant methodological improvements, the theoretical basis of EMDR remains in contradiction with the evidence addressing its effectiveness (Lohr, Lilienfeld, Tolin, %26 Herbert, 199.The effects of EMDR are more marked on reported measures of anxiety; its impact on physiological measures related to anxiety (such as heart rate) is less clear. Although continued use of EMDR may result in a loss of reputation for the mental health profession, Lohr is quick to claim that the therapy does not constitute criminal fraud or pose a health risk to patients. EMDR has been labeled as a scientific intervention, with claims to be the most effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorders and equally effective for other psychological disorders. Initially, Shapiro developed EMDR to help clients overcome anxiety associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other anxiety disorders, such as phobias.
And marketing tactics, rather than scientific evidence, are responsible for the widespread use and brilliant reputation of EMDR, Lohr said. In fact, based on a systematic review of the research, McNally (199) concluded that “what is effective in EMDR is not new, and what is new is not (p. EMDR is a recognized treatment for PTSD by the National Health Service and recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence. In their article, Herbert, Lilienfeld and Lohr cite numerous scientific experiments, which compared patients treated with the traditional EMDR protocol with patients treated with the EMDR protocol, without eye movements.
This statement is announced on the EMDR Institute homepage, but the page omits the other less favourable findings from the review of the APA research on EMDR, which states that “Despite the demonstrable effectiveness of EMDR, these studies question the theoretical foundations of EMDR (ASD and PTSD Working Group, 2004, p. .