A Controlled Study of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) For Boys With Conduct Problems

Citation: Soberman, G. B., Greenwald, R., & Rule, D. L. (2002). A controlled study of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) for boys with conduct problems. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 6, 217-236.

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We suggest that trauma contributes to the development and persistence of conduct problems, and should be addressed. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) was selected as a promising trauma treatment. Twenty-nine boys with conduct problems in residential or day treatment were randomized into standard care or standard care plus 3 trauma-focused EMDR sessions. The EMDR group showed large and significant reduction of memory-related distress, as well as trends towards reduction of post-traumatic symptoms. The EMDR group also showed large and significant reduction of problem behaviors by 2-month follow-up, whereas the control group showed only slight improvement. These findings provide support for EMDR’s use as a trauma treatment for boys ages 10-16, as well as support for the hypothesis that effective trauma treatment can lead to reduced conduct problems in this population.

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