Efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in the treatment of specific phobias: Four single-case studies on dental phobia


  • A. De Jongh,

    Corresponding author
    1. Academic Centre for Dentistry, Amsterdam, and Institute for Psychotrauma, Zaltbommel, The Netherlands
    • Department of Social Dentistry and Dental Health Education, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam, Louwesweg 1, 1066 EA Amsterdam, The Netherlands; e-mail: info@psycho-trauma.nl
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  • H.J.M. van den Oord,

    1. Centre for Special Dental Care, Amsterdam
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  • E. ten Broeke

    1. Centre for Psychotrauma and Psychotherapy, Bilthoven, The Netherlands
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A series of single-case experiments was used to evaluate the application of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to traumatically induced dental phobia. Following two to three sessions of EMDR treatment, three of the four patients demonstrated substantially reduced self-reported and observer-rated anxiety, reduced credibility of dysfunctional beliefs concerning dental treatment, and significant behavior changes. These gains were maintained at six weeks follow-up. In all four cases, the clinical diagnosis present at pretreatment was not present at posttreatment at a clinical level. All patients actually underwent the dental treatment they feared most within three weeks following EMDR treatment. The findings support the notion that EMDR can be an effective treatment alternative for phobic conditions with a trauma-related etiology. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 58: 1489–1503, 2002.