Saturday 28 June
PRESENTER MATERIAL FOR DELEGATES: Download(s)
Sunday 29 June
Background and objectives: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an evidence-based treatment for PTSD. Research suggests that it may aid addiction treatment. An experiment was conducted to determine effects of EMDR on cigarette craving and smoking behaviour.
Method: 47 daily smokers, abstaining overnight, were allocated to an experimental or control group by minimization (balancing baseline levels of desire thinking). Participants received a highly equivalent procedure. However, the experimental procedure induced eye movements while the control group fixed their gaze for 6 minutes after recalling a craving-inducing memory. Three memory representations were targeted: a memory of intense craving, a memory of relapse and an image of a typical and personal craving-inducing situation. Smoking behavior and craving were monitored the week before and following the intervention. In addition, craving, vividness of target memories, smoking attentional bias and implicit associations and smoking behavior were assessed at several time points between baseline and 1 week follow-up.
Results: The experimental group showed significant reductions of craving and vividness of targeted memories. These effects were lost at follow-up. Reductions in smoking behavior directly post-intervention and during the week following intervention were non-significant but in the expected direction.
Limitations: Participants were treated and measured by the first author, which may have biased the results.
Conclusions: EMDR during 3 x 6 minutes resulted in significant, but short-lived, changes in craving and vividness of targeted memory representations. This may or may not reflect a dose effect. The results warrant further research.
Hellen Hornsveld & Wiebren Markus
In this presentation we will briefly summarize research on the role of eye movements (EM) in negative, positive and neutral images. We will discuss the results in light of the working memory hypothesis and discuss important clinical implications.
EM in negative images: There are numorous studies (laboratory as well as clinical) that demonstrate that eye movements reduce the vividness and emotionality of negative images. This effect is larger for eye movements than for tones. It is also related to the working memory capacity of the individual. Bilaterality (alternating between left and right) seems less important. We will discuss how clinicians can use these findings during EMDR sessions.
EM in positive images: EM during the recall of positive memories make these memories less positive during further recalls. This is in line with the working memory hypothesis. It has also important clinical implications. First, disfuncional positive memories can be desensitised (e.g. memories leading to craving, paraphilia, impuls control disorders). Second, EM may be counterproductive in procedures like the safe place and Resource Development and Installation (RDI).
EM in neutral images. A recent study demonstrated that the fading effect of EM in positive and negative memories is not found in non-emotional memories. This suggests the importance of sufficient arousal during EMDR and is related to the fact that stress-hormones (i.c. norepinephrine) are necessary for consolidation and reconsolidation of memories. Implications for the working memory hypothesis and for clinical practice will be discussed.
Wiebren Markus, M.S. is a mental health psychologist and PhD candidate within IrisZorg, an institute for addiction care and sheltered housing in the Netherlands. He works with addicted youth and their families. In addition, he conducts research on the use of EMDR in treating addiction in collaboration with the Nijmegen Institute of Scientist-Practitioners in Addiction (NISPA) and the Radboud University.