Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) practitioners’ beliefs about memory.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a widely used treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder. The idea behind EMDR is that lateral eye movements may mitigate the emotional impact of traumatic memories. Given the focus on changing patients’ memories, it is important that EMDR practitioners have detailed knowledge about human memory. We explored beliefs and ideas about memory in samples of EMDR practitioners (Study 1: n = 12; Study 2: n = 41), students (Study 1: n = 35; Study 2: n = 24), and researchers (Study 2: n = 30). All groups seemed to be aware of the fallibility of memory.


However, a majority of the surveyed EMDR practitioners (70–90%), students (around 90%), and researchers (66.7%) endorsed the controversial idea of repressed memories. Skepticism and endorsement of problematic ideas about memory-related topics may coexist within the same group.


In clinical settings, this might be problematic, because a strong belief in repressed memories might lead therapists to suggestively seek for such memories in patients. 

Houben, S. T. L., Otgaar, H., Roelofs, J., Wessel, I., Patihis, L., & Merckelbach, H. | 2021
In: Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice ; ISSN: 2326-5531 | 8 | 3 | 258–273
Beliefs, Effectiveness, EMDR, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Memory, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD (en), Recovery, Repression, Scientific Research, Treatment