Moving Toward and Through Trauma : Participant Experiences of Multi-Modal Motion-Assisted Memory Desensitization and Reconsolidation (3MDR)

Introduction: Military members and Veterans are at risk of developing combat-related, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder (TR-PTSD) and moral injury (MI). Conventional trauma-focused therapies (TFTs) have shown limited success. Novel interventions including Multi-modal Motion-assisted Memory Desensitization and Reconsolidation therapy (3MDR) may prove successful in treating TR-PTSD.


Objective: To qualitatively study the experiences of Canadian military members and Veterans with TR-PTSD who received the 3MDR intervention.


Methods: This study explored qualitative data from a larger mixed-method waitlist control trial testing the efficacy of 3MDR in military members and veterans. Qualitative data were recorded and collected from 3MDR sessions, session debriefings and follow-up interviews up to 6 months post-intervention; the data were then thematically analyzed.


Results: Three themes emerged from the data: (1) the participants' experiences with 3MDR; (2) perceived outcomes of 3MDR; and (3) keys to successful 3MDR treatment. Participants expressed that 3MDR provided an immersive environment, active engagement and empowerment. The role of the therapist as a coach and “fireteam partner” supports the participants' control over their therapy. The multi-modal nature of 3MDR, combining treadmill-walking toward self-selected trauma imagery with components of multiple conventional TFTs, was key to helping participants engage with and attribute new meaning to the memory of the traumatic experience.


Discussion: Preliminary thematic analysis of participant experiences of 3MDR indicate that 3MDR has potential as an effective intervention for combat-related TR-PTSD, with significant functional, well-being and relational improvements reported post-intervention.


Conclusion: Military members and Veterans are at risk of developing TR-PTSD, with worse outcomes than in civilians. Further research is needed into 3MDR and its use with other trauma-affected populations.



Tristin Hamilton, Lisa Burback, Lorraine Smith-MacDonald, Chelsea Jones, Matthew R. G. Brown, Cynthia Mikolas, Emily Tang, Kaitlin O’Toole, Priyanka Vergis, Anna Merino, Kyle Weiman, Eric H. G. J. M. Vermetten and Suzette Brémault-Phillips | 2021
In: Frontiers in Psychiatry ; ISSN: 1664-0640
Epub DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.779829
3MDR (Military Motion Memory Desensitization and Reprocessing) (en), Canadians, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Epidemiology, Guilt, Military Personnel, Moral Injury (eng), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Reconciliation, Research Needs, Shame, Statistical Analysis, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Treatment Effectiveness, Veterans
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