EMDR to Facilitate Posttraumatic Growth: A Prospective Clinical Pilot Study on Ferry Disaster Survivors
Sang Won Jeon 1, 3, Changsu Han 1*, Joonho Choi 2, Young-Hoon Ko 1, 3, Ho-Kyoung Yoon 1, Yong-Ku Kim 1
1Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Korea University, Ansan Hospital, Ansan, Republic of Korea, 2Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, Hanyang University, Guri Hospital, Guri, Republic of Korea, 3Ansan Mental Health Trauma Center, Ansan, Republic of Korea
Received: July 22, 2016; Revised: October 18, 2016; Accepted: November 11, 2016; Published online: November 11, 2016.
© The Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the therapeutic effects of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) on post-traumatic growth (PTG).
Methods: This study was conducted using a sample of ten survivors of a large-scale maritime disaster that occurred in the Yellow Sea, South Korea, in April 2014. A total of eight EMDR sessions were administered by a psychiatrist at two-week intervals over a period of five months, starting two or three months after the accident. Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), Stress-Related Growth Scale (SRGS), Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), and Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) were measured before treatment, after sessions 4 and 8, and at three months after treatment completion.
Results: After three months from treatment completion, significant increases were observed in PTG (PTGI: Z(8)=-2.380, p=0.017; SRGS: Z(8)=-2.380, p=0.017) and resilience (CD-RISC: Z(8)=-2.386, p=0.017). A decrease in PTSD level was also significant (CAPS: Z(8)=-2.176, p=0.030). The reduction of CAPS scores was correlated with increases of PTGI (rho=0.78, p=0.023) and SRGS (rho=0.79, p=0.020) scores. The changes in CAPS, PTGI, and SRGS scores between time point of end 8-session and three months follow-up was not significant (all p>0.05). Subjects with higher pre-treatment CD-RISC scores showed more significant improvements in PTGI (rho=0.88, p=0.004) and SRGS (rho=0.83, p=0.010) scores after treatment than did those with lower pre-treatment CD-RISC scores.
Conclusion: EMDR therapy using standard protocol for trauma processing helped facilitating PTG in disaster survivors. To generalize these findings, further controlled studies comparing with other treatment modalities for PTSD is needed.
Keywords: EMDR, Posttraumatic growth, PTSD, Resilience, Trauma