Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jan 20;19(3):1142. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19031142

Psychotherapeutic techniques for distressing memories: A comparative study between EMDR, Brainspotting, and Body Scan Meditation

Objectives: We explored the effects of a single 40-min session of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Brainspotting (BSP), and Body Scan Meditation (BSM) in the processing of distressing memories reported by a non-clinical sample of adult participants.

Design: A within-subject design was used.

Methods: Participants (n = 40 Psychologists/MDs) reported four distressing memories, each of which treated with a single intervention. EMDR, BSP, and BSM were compared with each other, and with a Book Reading (BR) active control condition, using as dependent measures, SUD (Subjective Units of Disturbance) and Memory Telling Duration (MTD) on a 4-point timeline: Baseline, Pre-Intervention, Post-Intervention, Follow-up.

Results: SUD scores associated with EMDR, BSP, and BSM significantly decreased from Pre- to Post-Intervention (p < 0.001). At Post-Intervention and Follow-up, EMDR and BSP SUD scores were significantly lower than BSM and BR scores (p < 0.02). At both Post-Intervention and Follow-up, BSM SUD scores were lower than BR scores (p < 0.01). A reduction in MTD was observed from Pre- to Post-Intervention for EMDR and BSP conditions (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Overall, results showed beneficial effects of single sessions of EMDR, BSP, or BSM in the processing of healthy adults' distressing memories. Study limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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