1. In this intervention study, online Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy resulted in significant improvements in mental health.
2. Online EMDR may represent an alternative for in-person therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
The increasing availability of online psychological interventions improves accessibility of mental health services for those with barriers to on-site care. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, online services have become crucial to providing emotional support during lockdown periods. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has been previously validated as a tool for treating psychiatric disorders, and may confer mental health benefits delivered in an online format.
The present study evaluated the efficacy of online EMDR at improving mental health in individuals enrolled in online psychotherapy. Mental health status was measured via the Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES–R), the General Anxiety Disorder 7 scale (GAD-7), the Public Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) scale, and the PTSD Checklist (PCL-5). All participants who were enrolled in online therapy with the EMDR therapists contacted were included. Accordingly, no exclusion criteria were applied.
Thirty-three therapists enrolled in the study with a total of 93 individual clients. The majority of clients were receiving treatment for PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Significant decreases in mean IES-R, GAD-7, PHQ-9, and PCL-5 (p<0.001) were recorded. Level of therapist accreditation, length of training, client gender, client age, and clinical outcomes were not associated with any significant difference in measured mental health outcomes. However, the major limitation of the study was that there was no control group to assess if clients generally improved over time or if EMDR significantly modified improvement of mental health parameters. Overall, EMDR may significantly improve mental health outcomes for those receiving online psychotherapy.
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