A Fork in the Road, EMDR and Scientific Validation


Jenny Ann Rydberg

Chair(s): Derek Farrell

Saturday 18 june 2016

12:00 - 12:30h at World Forum Theater

Categories: Research, Techniques


Which practices can be combined with EMDR and which combinations should be avoided? And according to which criteria? This symposium hopes to introduce new ethical questions to the EMDR community, questions that may have repercussions for national and international recognition of EMDR therapy, the safety and well-being of patients, and the practioner's reputation and professional standing.

More and more EMDR practitioners seem tempted to combine EMDR with energy, spiritual, and metaphysical practices. Others defend and teach diagnoses that are not recognized by the ICD or DSM guidelines. When concern is expressed, typical responses claim that "EMDR was initially met with disbelief: who are we to reject something that has not yet been scientifically validated?", "As always in EMDR, we stay out the way and we respect our patients' beliefs", "I never know and I don't care whether my patients' memories are true"...

But is it ethical to use wording that may be interpreted as supporting metaphysical or energy or spiritual theories, practices, and techniques, while hiding behind the claim that we are not responsible for our patients' interpretation?

And what about the professional and ethical obligation of the mental health practitioner to offer to patients only techniques and approaches that have been validated scientifically or by professional peers, and that remain within the realm of the reserved professional field of practice of the therapist?

Learning objectives

This presentation will ask disturbing but essential questions, challenging participants' ideas and opinions, informing them of professional and ethical issues and risks. Participants should leave the presentation with a clearer overview of the issues at stake, a knowledge of existing sources of scientific information on the subject, and enough theoretical, ethical, and practical data to guide them when deciding which practices and techniques they may use in combination with EMDR. In addition, the presentation should leave participants with an accrued awareness of the implications of the issues at stake and an ability to take a stand in their own professional circles when potentially problematic situations arise. 

More information

  • Location(s)
  • plattegrond World Forum Theater