Demand for low-intensity EMDR approaches

Low intensity self-help interventions have proved effective both in time and cost. In a recent review paper, Louise Maxfield suggests that, in much the same way that self-help CBT approaches have been developed and have become accepted as effective treatment options, the same can be done for EMDR treatment (Journal of EMDR Research and Practice, Vol 15, No. 2, p86).

Maxfield reviews high and low intensity psychological interventions and the various approaches that fall into the low-intensity self-help category including: bibliotherapy, computerised audio-visual media and smartphone apps. Whilst the safety and efficacy of such approaches have not been assessed comprehensively, many of those based on CBT self-help approaches have. To date, there is a dearth of research on self-help EMDR. However, group EMDR therapies are much better researched. Maxfield points out that EMDR group therapy be considered as a low-intensity intervention requiring less specialist contact time than individual therapy.

She suggests that “guided self-help EMDR treatment is feasible and effective” and that the evidence for her assertion is “best seen in the EMDR group studies”. She notes that many hundreds of non-EMDR computerised therapies and mental health apps have been found effective in research trials but that this low-intensity pathway to EMDR treatment is simply not available to patients not because they are ineffective but purely because such approaches are yet to be developed.

Maxfield concludes that “Developing safe, low-intensity, efficacious EMDR interventions that are easy to use and readily available will make effective EMDR treatment available to many millions of people around the world”.

Omar Sattaur edits EMDR Therapy Quarterly and works in private practice in Cheltenham