EMDR seems to be working through taxation of the working memory. A large amount of research has been carried out demonstrating that vividness and emotionality of negative images declines when working memory is taxed while the charged image is retrieved simultaneously. Research also shows this effect on positive images, meaning that these become less positive. In the Netherlands, as in some other countries, a procedure called ‘Positive Termination’ at the end of the EMDR-session is used. In this procedure positive verbal material is used while eye movements are performed at the same time. The patient is asked what the most valuable thing he has learned about himself during the last session with regard to the theme or event that was being treated. Once a positive ‘I-statement’ is made (e.g. I’m powerful) eye movements are carried out. However, the efficacy of these eye movements in this procedure has never been tested. To study the effect of eye movements on positive verbal material two studies using undergraduates were conducted. Study participants were exposed to two conditions, one with and one without eye movements. The results of these studies will be presented and discussed.
Suzy Matthijssen (1982) is employed at the Community Mental Health Service Altrecht GGZ in the Netherlands. She is a clinical psychologist in a Flexible Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) team offering treatment to people with severe mental illnesses, works at the Altrecht Academic Anxiety Centre for patients with complex anxiety disorders, is a supervisor for psychologists conducting psychological diagnostic research and is working at the Pieter Baan Centre, a forensic psychiatric observation clinic. She is a PhD candidate and a member of the Dutch Association for EMDR (VEN).
Identifying if eye movements also work on verbal material. Knowing whether and how it works may enhance our understanding of the working mechanisms of EMDR.
- Determine the effects of eye movements on verbal material in the procedure ‘Positive Termination’
- Critically consider the working theory of EMDR
- Develop insight in the extensiveness of EMDR