Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 395-405

First online:

Pathological gambling: Etiologic considerations and treatment efficacy of eye movement desensitization/reprocessing

  • Steven L. HenryAffiliated withClackamas County Mental Health

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This study of 22 subjects who meet DSM IV criteria for Pathological Gambling (PG) tests a theory that the development of PG lies in the existence of unresolved trauma-related anxiety, similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and predicts that reduction of that anxiety will result in reduced pathological gambling behavior. The study compares the effect on gambling event frequency of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy with cognitive therapy to that of cognitive therapy alone for subjects with and without reported trauma history. Results are significant for pre- vs post-EMDR (p =.04), for those with reported trauma history, (p=.01) and when controlled for frequency of sessions and time in therapy prior to the treatment (p=.04). Findings support an anxiety based model for the etiology of PG behavior.