The Efficacy of Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing in Resolving the Trauma Caused by the Road Accidents in the Sultanate of Oman

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in Resolving the Trauma Caused by the Road Accidents in the Sultanate of Oman. Three measures were used in this study, Trauma symptoms inventory, Subjective Units of Distress scale and the Dissociative Experiences Scale. Fifty- one volunteer participants from the University of Nizwa students and three hospitals in the Sultanate of Oman, with post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)caused by the road accidents were randomly assigned to either a treatment (N= 25) or waiting list group(control group)(N=26), after that they received a training to apply the EMDR for 2-3 sessions, in this study, EMDR was shown to be effective in reducing overall PTSD scale in both of posttesting and follow--up measurement, as well as for all participants, key words: EMDR, PTSD and road accidents.


The fact that psychological problems may occur after accidents is well known. Since then there has been a controversial discussion about the validity of psychological sequelae of traffic accidents and the problems in differentiating between physical and psychological sequelae. Despite the long-lasting debate and the amount of injured accident victims, knowledge about the prevalence, validity and predictors of psychological sequelae after injuries is sparse. (Stieglitz, Nyberg & Berger, 1998) Accidents are one of the most prevalent traumas in western culture as like as in the Arab countries (Taylor and Koch 1995). After accidents, responses such as depression, phobic anxiety or PTSD may occur (Malt 1988; Mayou, Ehlers, Bryant, 2002). The psychological symptoms that can occur as a result of road accidents are increasingly being documented as well as efforts being made at early detection and understanding of who is vulnerable to post-accident psychological disorder. The major types of disorder that people suffer include symptoms of (PTSD) such as nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance symptoms, hyper arousal and emotional numbing, as well as phobic anxieties about travel, depression, grief and changes in driver behavior (Stieglitz, et al., 1998).

Apart from the experience of the accident itself, many of these injuries cause significant, lifelong difficulties. Therefore understanding the processes of trauma recovery is critical for social workers located in acute, rehabilitation and community settings (Harms, 2004).

(EMDR) is a new method of therapy that employs both exposure (desensitization) and cognitive processing of the traumatic memories. Francine Shapiro, an American psychologist, first described EMDR in 1989 as a psychological treatment to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories (Hogberg, Pagani, Sundin, Soares and Aberg-Wistedt, 2007). An unusual aspect of the technique is that it also involves having the patient engage in therapist directed, saccadic eye movements during the treatment procedure (Boudewyns and Hyer, 1996; Shapiro, 2001).

During EMDR the patient is asked to attend to emotionally disturbing material (distressing traumatic image) in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus (eye movements, hand taps or bi-lateral audio stimulation). Therapists usually encourage patients to focus on traumatic material or image for around 25 eye-movements as they follow the therapist's fingers over a 1-2 minute period (Hogberg, et al., 2007). Brief feed backs then obtained about any noticeable cognitive, emotional or physical changes. Further eye movements are then made with the patient focusing on this new material. This process continues until the individual reports a subjective reduction in levels of distress related to the traumatic experience. An individual treatment session normally lasts around 90 minutes and several sessions might be required to process a single memory or image (Kathryn, MacCluskie; Kitchiner, Roberts and Bissori, 2006). …


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