Comparison of two treatments for traumatic stress: A community-based study of EMDR and prolonged exposure

G. Ironson, B. Freund, J. L. Strauss, J. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

193 Scopus citations


This pilot study compared the efficacy of two treatments for postraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Prolonged Exposure (PE). Data were analyzed for 22 patients from a university-based clinic serving the outside community (predominantly rape and crime victims) who completed at least one active session of treatment after three preparatory sessions. Results showed both approaches produced a significant reduction in PTSD and depression symptoms, which were maintained at three-month follow-up. Successful treatment was faster with EMDR as a larger number of people (7 of 10) had a 70% reduction in PTSD symptoms after three active sessions compared to 2 of 12 with PE. EMDR appeared to be better tolerated as the dropout rate was significantly lower in those randomized to EMDR versus PE (0 of 10 vs. 3 of 10). However all patients who remained in treatment with PE had a reduction in PTSD scores. Finally, Subjective Units of Distress (SUDS) ratings decreased significantly during the initial session of EMDR, but changed little during PE. Postsession SUDS were significantly lower for EMDR than for PE. Suggestions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Prolonged exposure
  • PTSD
  • Stress
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Comparison of two treatments for traumatic stress: A community-based study of EMDR and prolonged exposure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this