Background and Objectives: Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is effective, efficient, and well tolerated, but complex and resource-intensive to learn. Progressive counting (PC) is newer, has similar advantages and is easier to master. The objective of this study was to compare EMDR and PC.
Methods: One hundred nine therapists in either EMDR or PC training programs worked on several of their own upsetting memories in practicums during the course of the training. For each treated memory they recorded treatment time as well as pre/post memory-related distress ratings; ratings were repeated at 2 and 10 weeks post-treatment via e-mail. Participants also rated the perceived difficulty of the treatment they experienced.
Results: Participants in both conditions reported significant reductions in memory-related distress, which persisted at 2 weeks and 10 weeks post-treatment. There were no differences in effect size or maintenance of gains. PC was 37.5% more efficient than EMDR, and was rated as being less difficult.
Limitations: Participants were therapists, not distressed individuals; allocation to group was natural and not randomized; and there was no evaluation of treatment fidelity.
Conclusions: PC is less resource-intensive than EMDR to disseminate. In this study, PC was as effective as EMDR, more efficient, and perceived as less difficult. If these findings are replicated with distressed participants, PC will become a preferred trauma treatment.