Guided Eye Movement (GEM) in Trauma Therapy: Hypothetical Neurological Routes and Initial Results of a Sample N = 35

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Recent studies and clinical evidence indicate that eye movement by itself has a direct and positive role in neural processing, especially in processing emotion and, thus, trauma. The influence of eye movement on electroencephalography is amply documented but is generally taken as artifacts. This article comments on existing neurological research that may explain the positive effects—on both acute and posttraumatic stress—of guided eye movement in combination with cognitive therapy. Results of a minimally directive method for applying guided eye movement in a clinical setting are given. The method does not require extensive or specialized training and therefore may be applied by nontherapists. This simple form of guided eye movement was applied as trauma therapy to a sample of 35 subjects, in combination with active empathic listening. The short and medium term results (1–12 months) are presented here in detail. These clinical results point to neurological possibilities supporting the idea that the positive effects of the mere guided movement of the eyes during the recounting of a traumatic experience may depend on a physical, and not a psychological, mechanism. This opens possibilities for faster and more economic forms of trauma treatment.

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