Psychological Myths as Therapeutic Instructions in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Sanne T.L. Houben*, Henry Otgaar, Jeffrey Roelofs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Dutch protocol for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) uses two psychological myths as part of the therapeutic instruction: memory works as a video camera and individuals can have a photographic memory. This study explored how participants experience and evaluate such instructions and if these instructions affect their beliefs on memory. Participants received a video, photo, or a control instruction. Participants indicated on a visual analog scale how vivid and emotional they expected to recall the traumatic memory, how credible the therapeutic instruction was, and how reliable they would consider a therapist providing such an instruction. Next, participants completed a memory belief survey. Participants who received the video instruction were most likely to expect to vividly recall a memory. The credibility of the instructions and the reliability of the therapist providing the instruction were at chance level, which might pose problems for the therapeutic alliance and therapy outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-139
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2021


  • Therapy
  • EMDR
  • psychological myths
  • expectancy effects

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