Improving Trauma Treatment: Examining the Effects of Different Levels of Activation in Online EMDR
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Background: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is used to reduce the emotionality and vividness of traumatic memories in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The effects of extra activation during EMDR and whether it leads to positive outcomes by taxing the working memory more is still unclear. Objective: This study investigated the effectiveness of different levels of activation and desensitization (recall only, dual task only, recall + dual task, recall + dual task + activation). It was hypothesized that the conditions involving dual task would result in a larger decrease in emotionality and vividness compared to the conditions without the dual task. The second hypothesis was that more decrease in emotionality and vividness would be seen in conditions where participants recalled the negative memories during intervention compared to the ‘dual task only’ condition. We examined the effects of the different conditions on avoidance behavior about the negative memory in the week following the intervention. Method: Non-clinical participants (N = 64) were randomly allocated to 4 conditions. The negative memory was induced by using a film clip. Emotionality and vividness of the memory were measured pre- and post-intervention, and at 1-week follow up. Avoidance behavior was measured post-intervention and at 1-week follow-up. Results: There was a significant decrease in the emotionality and vividness both at post- and follow-up assessments. There was no significant difference between the conditions in reducing emotionality and vividness, nor for avoidance behavior. Conclusions: No significant difference in the decrease in the emotionality and vividness scores was found between different conditions. The effects of different experimental conditions warrant more research. Studies with clinical samples are needed.