Controversial technique EMDR used to convince woman she murdered her assailant

Quite possibly false memory.

Hypnosis showed I was a killer | The Sun

SHOCKED Janet Holt has told how hypnosis revealed she KILLED a farmer who she believes raped her — more than 30 years ago.

Janet, 64, had buried the horrific memories until she went for therapy.

In 1976 Fred Handford, 56 — her business partner on the farm — vanished. Despite a huge police search he was never found.

Janet said the recollection was terrifyingly clear — she shot Fred after he twice raped her, then put his body in a wheelbarrow and buried him on their farm.

Janet was arrested and showed cops where she believed she buried the body. But after extensive searches of the 50-acre site, he was never found and she was released.

Then Janet heard of a form of psychotherapy called Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) — used to recall memories and eliminate trauma.

She said: “The therapy involved me trying to relive the lost four days and moving my eyes from side to side to stimulate the memories.”

After four hours, Janet believes she recalled everything.

However, the police has never found the body of Fred Handford, after thorough searching of the land and they have no evidence linking Janet Holt to the case other than her own testimony.

Regression therapy is bogus. You are more likely to manufacture memories than retrieve older ones in tact. There is not substantial evidence to back up Janet’s claim. This story is hype, the premise is nonsense and the therapist should be investigated. The truth can not be teased out of these “memories”. It is completely unreliable.

Here is some additional information on the EMDR therapy:

eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) – The Skeptic’s Dictionary –

EMDR is controversial and although it is not an approved practice of the American Psychological Association (APA), it is not disapproved either. According to Pamela Willenz of the APA Public Affairs Office, the “APA rarely approves or disapproves of therapies. We don’t approve or disapprove of EMDR as a therapy. APA does recognize therapies and does recognize EMDR as a type of therapy. We offer CE credits for psychologists wanting to learn EMDR.” This practice of the APA to neither approve nor disapprove of therapies tells us more about the APA than it does about EMDR. It might be useful to consumers if the APA would at least distinguish between therapies proven to be effective and those that are controversial. One does not need to be an expert in anything to recognize that EMDR is a type of therapy.

EMDR Treatment: Still Less Than Meets the Eye?.

The most reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the extant literature is that EMDR is no more effective than standard treatments that rely on exposure to anxiety-provoking stimuli and is almost certainly effective because it happens to incorporate such exposure. In the words of Harvard psychologist Richard McNally, “What is effective in EMDR is not new, and what is new is not effective.” Importantly, controlled data do not support the use of EMDR for anxiety disorders other than PTSD (e.g., phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder), mood disorders, sexual disorders, eating disorders, or psychotic disorders, although it is commonly used to treat the symptoms of these and other conditions.

The NESS » EMDR: Science or Pseudoscience.

It would be splendid if EMDR advocates could empirically support the exaggerated claims they put forth regarding the efficacy of EMDR treatment. Nevertheless, it is exceedingly clear that EMDR not only lacks the theoretical foundation necessary to be considered a scientific method, the empirical evidence supporting its efficacy are also flawed and inconsistent. EMDR has not yet been validated convincingly by any controlled study that any of its therapeutic effects are not due to random chance, or other aspects of the treatment (e.g., patient expectancy, placebo effect, etc.) besides the eye movement procedure (Lohr, Tolin, &d lilienfeld, 1998). Based on these and numerous other inconsistencies, it is without question that extreme caution is advised in the clinical application of EMDR. It is very clear that the theory and practice of EMDR falls well short of scientific standards.

Beware of this story. Beware of EMDR. And most of all, beware of anything printed by The Sun.

  7 comments for “Controversial technique EMDR used to convince woman she murdered her assailant

  1. spookyparadigm
    June 17, 2013 at 10:43 PM


  2. Harold Renshaw
    June 18, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    It is about time that the public became aware of the dangers inherent in “therapy.” Therapists are among the most superstitious and muddle headed so called professionals and we should seek their assistance with caution. Any scientific advances in the mental healing arts are ignored while too often they buy into chiropractic and pseudo-scientific practices. Most are not interested in research and can’t be bothered with critical thinking.

  3. Patti
    June 18, 2013 at 3:31 PM

    No therapy should be used to recall forgotten memories. Memories are buried for good reasons. And memory is fallible. Indeed, often purposely recalled memory such as in Regression therapy, can create false memories. In any event, EMDR is NOT used to recall buried memories. It is NOT a regression therapy.

    EMDR is a treatment approach which has been empirically validated in over 24 randomized studies of trauma victims. It is considered one of the three treatments of choice for trauma (along with CBT and PE) by organizations such as ISTSS (International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies), American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of Defense, Departments of Health in Northern Ireland, UK, Israel, the Netherlands, France, and other countries and organizations.

    See Foa, E.B., Keane, T.M., Friedman, M.J., & Cohen, J.A. (2009). Effective treatments for PTSD: Practice Guidelines of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies New York: Guilford Press. EMDR was listed as an effective and empirically supported treatment for PTSD, and was given an AHCPR “A” rating for adult PTSD.

    As noted in the American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines (2004, p.18), in EMDR “traumatic material need not be verbalized; instead, patients are directed to think about their traumatic experiences without having to discuss them.” Given the reluctance of many combat veterans to divulge the details of their experience, as well as other trauma survivors, this factor is relevant to willingness to initiate treatment, retention and therapeutic gains.

    The research shows that EMDR works, and at 15-month follow-up continues to hold (see Wilson, S., Becker, L.A., & Tinker, R.H. (1997). Fifteen-month follow-up of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and psychological trauma. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 65, 1047-1056).

    The World Health Organization (WHO) now has “guidelines on problems and disorders specifically related to stress.” (In press)
    “Individual or group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a trauma focus, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), or stress management should be considered for adults with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
    “Individual or group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a trauma focus or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) should be considered for children and adolescents with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

    So the short answer to your question is Yes, EMDR has been empirically validated as a front-line treatment for PTSD and is used worldwide to relieve suffering.

  4. June 18, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    As shown in my links, I do not agree it is this clear cut as an effective treatment. But thanks for the references in case people want to check those out.

  5. Barb
    June 19, 2013 at 7:05 AM

    EMDR therapy is not, and never has been” advocated as a treatment for “memory recovery” as pointed out in the article above. In addition, the author have utilized far-outdated and unscientific references in an attempt to substantiate their opinions about EMDR. Please check out the references below:

    American Psychiatric Association (2004). Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association Practice Guidelines.

    EMDR is recommended as an effective treatment for trauma.

    Bleich, A., Kotler, M., Kutz, I., & Shalev, A. (2002). A position paper of the (Israeli) National Council for Mental Health: Guidelines for the assessment and professional intervention with terror victims in the hospital and in the community. Jerusalem, Israel.

    EMDR is one of three methods recommended for treatment of terror victims.

    California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (2010). Trauma Treatment for Children.

    EMDR and Trauma-focused CBT are considered ³Well-Supported by Research Evidence.²

    CREST (2003). The management of post traumatic stress disorder in adults. A publication of the Clinical Resource Efficiency Support Team of the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Belfast.

    EMDR and CBT were stated to be the treatments of choice.

    Department of Veterans Affairs & Department of Defense (2010). VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Post-Traumatic Stress. Washington, DC: Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs and Health Affairs, Department of Defense.

    EMDR was placed in the category of the most effective PTSD psychotherapies. This “A” category is described as “A strong recommendation that clinicians provide the intervention to eligible patients. Good evidence was found that the intervention improves important health outcomes and concludes that benefits substantially outweigh harm.”

    Dutch National Steering Committee Guidelines Mental Health Care (2003). Multidisciplinary Guideline Anxiety Disorders. Quality Institute Heath Care CBO/Trimbos Intitute. Utrecht, Netherlands.

    EMDR and CBT both designated as treatments of choice for PTSD

    Foa, E.B., Keane, T.M., Friedman, M.J., & Cohen, J.A. (2009). Effective treatments for PTSD: Practice Guidelines of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies New York: Guilford Press.

    EMDR was listed as an effective and empirically supported treatment for PTSD, and was given an AHCPR “A” rating for adult PTSD.

    INSERM (2004). Psychotherapy: An evaluation of three approaches. French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Paris, France.

    EMDR and CBT were stated to be the treatments of choice for trauma victims.

    National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (2005). Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): The management of adults and children in primary and secondary care. London: National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

    Trauma-focused CBT and EMDR were stated to be empirically supported treatments for choice for adult PTSD.

    SAMHSA¹s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (2011)

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This national registry (NREPP) cites EMDR as evidence based practice for
    treatment of PTSD, anxiety, and depression symptoms. Their review of the evidence also indicated that EMDR leads to an improvement in mental health functioning.

    Therapy Advisor (2004-11):

    An NIMH sponsored website listing empirically supported methods for a variety of disorders. EMDR is one of three treatments listed for PTSD.

    United Kingdom Department of Health (2001). Treatment choice in psychological therapies and counselling evidence based clinical practice guideline. London, England.

    Best evidence of efficacy was reported for EMDR, exposure, and stress inoculation

    World Health Organization (in press). Guidelines for the management of conditions that are specifically related to stress. Geneva, WHO.

    Trauma-focused CBT and EMDR therapy are recommended for children, adolescents and adults with PTSD.

  6. Altus
    June 21, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    So, Ms. Shapiro, the inventor of this therapy apparently got her PhD from a non-accredited and now closed diploma mill ?

    Why is it the mental health field allows this sort of thing? Can you imagine going to a heart surgeon who got her degree at a non-accredited university? How Ms. Shapiro is allowed to claim any expert knowledge of “memory processing” without any apparent training in neuroscience or any valid degree of any sort baffles me.

  7. January 14, 2014 at 5:56 PM

    I’m surprised the police took this seriously and arrested her. Was she projecting her own desire for revenge into her traumatic past?

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