Sunday 29 June
The purpose of the current study was to examine hotspots in PTSD within the context of EMDR therapy. During the setup of EMDR, clients select an image representing the worst part of the traumatic event ('hotspots') and identify associated emotions and cognitions. Hotspots are relevant to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) where distressing intrusive images are common. Previous research found that reported emotions and cognitions during reliving therapy for PTSD did not correspond well with DSM-IV criteria. The current research will examine how reported emotions and cognitions correspond with existing PTSD criteria (DSM-V). 42 closed case files of clients who have received EMDR for PTSD in a private clinical psychology practice were examined. The setup for each image was coded, including reported cognitions and emotions. Emotions and cognitions will be analysed into themes using deductive and inductive coding, and inter-rater reliability will be obtained. Based on previous research using different therapies, it is expected that cognitions will correspond more frequently to a threat to one’s psychological (as opposed to physical) integrity, the majority of hotspots will occur just before/after, fear will be the most common emotion, but other primary emotions will be identified, and helplessness will be more frequently reported than horror. Results are expected to demonstrate the suitability of EMDR for exploring hotspots in PTSD and support the warning signal hypothesis. Results may have implications for treatment by providing further evidence that PTSD is not always fear-based.
Rachel King is a 4th year undergraduate in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. Her undergraduate dissertation has been carried out with Dr Alison Harper of Edinburgh Clinical Psychology (Chartered Clinical Psychologists).