Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Cross

Second Advisor

Dr. Mal Robertson

Third Advisor

Dr. Michele Burnette

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Gordon Hare


This study investigated the effects of eye movement desensitization (EMD) on post-traumatic sequelae, and attempted a partial dismantling of the procedure to determine the necessity of EMD's characteristic eye movements. Twenty-three persons participated in three groups: (1) those receiving standard EMD, (2) those receiving a variant of EMD in which eye movements were engendered through a light tracking task, and (3) those receiving a variant of EMD in which fixed visual attention replaced eye movements. All participants had experienced traumata as defined by the DSM-III-R and were having intrusive symptoms of PTSD at pre-treatment. All but two met full DSM-II-R criteria for PTSD. Each received two to six treatment sessions.

Dependent variables included heart rate changes, subjective units o f distress ratings, validity of both initial and targeted trauma-related cognitions during traumarelated imagery, overall frequency and intensity scores on the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale, anxiety and depression T-scores on the Symptom Checklist (SCL-90-R), and scores on the Impact o f Events Scale. Assessments were conducted at pre- and post-trcatment and at a one- to three-month follow-up.

All three interventions produced significant, positive changes in all dependent measures between pre- and post-treatments. Further, these changes were maintained at follow-up. No significant differences between groups were observed. These changes were of comparable magnitude to those reported elsewhere, but were brought about through a greater number of treatment sessions.

It was concluded that EMD does bring about fairly rapid therapeutic changes in those post-traumatic sequelae measured, though not as efficiently as most previous reports have suggested. Further, it was concluded that the eye movements peculiar to EMD are not a necessary component of the procedure. The similarities and differences between the present findings and previous reports are discussed, as are the limitations and implications of the present study. Recommendations for future work are made.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access