Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing : an evaluation of single session treatment of test anxiety
Maxfield, J. Louise
Master of Arts
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
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Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a structured comprehensive therapeutic procedure that appears to desensitize the distressing emotions related to past disturbing and traumatic events, while simultaneously restructuring related negative cognitions and relieving accompanying physiological hyperarousal. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a single ninety minute EMDR session in reducing the symptoms and anxiety associated with test anxiety. It was hypothesized that EMDR would effectively treat test anxiety by alleviating physiological distress, eliminating negative self-preoccupied cognitions, and decreasing the fear of negative evaluation. Seventeen second-year psychology students with test anxiety were randomly assigned to Immediate treatment and Delayed treatment conditions. Standardized objective measures (the Test Anxiety Inventory [TAI], the Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale, and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory) were taken pre- and post-treatment and at two-month follow-up. Results showed that EMDR significantly decreased the symptoms of test anxiety and evaluation fears of the Immediate group compared to the Delayed group, with effects being maintained at two-month follow-up. Large treatment effects were achieved and were reflected in large drops in percentile ranking on the TAI. The Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale and Validity of Cognition ratings also improved significantly, showing large treatment effects, which is consistent with Shapiro’s findings of rapid and significant reductions in presenting complaints and anxiety. When the Delayed group received treatment, it was found that the effects of treatment were equivalent for the two groups. One session of EMDR appears to be an effective treatment for test anxiety for students.