ISSN 1225-8709 (Print)
ISSN 2005-7571 (Online)
Volume 17, Number 2 (2/2010)
Original Article <page. 94-102 >

A Pilot Study of Brief Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing(EMDR) for Treatment of Acute Phase Schizophrenia

Daeho Kim, MD, PhD1,2;Joonho Choi, MD, PhD1,2;Seok Hyeon Kim, MD, PhD1;Dong Hoon Oh, MD, PhD1;Seon-Cheol Park, MD1,2; and Sun Hye Lee, MD1,2;

1;Department of Neuropsychiatry, School of Medicine, Hanyang University, and Mental Health Research Institute, Hanyang University, Seoul, 2;Department of Psychiatry, Hanyang University Guri Hospital, Guri, Korea

ObjectivesEye movement desensitization and reprocessing(EMDR) is a novel, time-limited psychotherapy originally developed for treatment of psychological trauma. The effectiveness of this therapy has been validated only for posttraumatic stress disorder;however, EMDR is often applied to other psychiatric illnesses, including other anxiety disorders and depression. This pilot study tested the efficacy of EMDR added to the routine treatment for individuals with acute stage schizophrenia.


Methods:This study was conducted in the acute psychiatric care unit of a university-affiliated training hospital. Inpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia were randomly assigned to either three sessions of EMDR, three sessions of progressive muscle relaxation(PMR) therapy, or only treatment as usual(TAU). All the participants received concurrent typical treatments(TAU), including psychotropic medication, individual supportive psychotherapy and group activities in the psychiatric ward. The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale(PANSS), the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale were administered by a clinical psychologist who was blinded to the patients' group assignment.


Results:Forty-five patients enrolled and forty patients(89%) completed the post-treatment evaluation. There were no between-group differences in the withdrawal rates of patients during the treatment or at the three-month follow-up session. All three groups improved significantly across each of the symptomatic domains including schizophrenia, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. However, a repeated measures ANOVA revealed no significant differences among the groups over time. Effect size for change in total PANSS scores was also similar across treatment conditions, but effect size for negative symptoms was large for EMDR(0.60 for EMDR, 0.39 for PMR and 0.21 for TAU only).


Conclusion:These findings supported the use of EMDR in treating the acute stage of schizophrenia but the results failed to confirm the effectiveness of the treatment over the two control conditions in three sessions. Further studies with longer courses of treatment, more focused target dimensions of treatment, and a sample of outpatients are necessary.



Key words : Schizophrenia;Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing(EMDR);Clinical trial;Psychotherapy.

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