tinnitus and EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing)

Name of treatment

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)

Type of treatment

Psychological based therapy which involves physical movement of the eyes.

Claims for treatment

Reduces tinnitus perception and distress.

How treatment is delivered

EMDR “is a psychotherapy that involves various elements and attention to the past, present and future. Part of the treatment includes bilateral stimulation, such as rapid movements of the eyes from side to side.”[1]

Potential negative consequences

No serious adverse effects were reported in clinical trials with tinnitus patients.[2] [3]

Evidence offered:

Papers available

6 (via PubMed)

Conclusions drawn

Studies completed to date suggest that EMDR is effective in reducing tinnitus distress.1 2 [4] However, these trials are small, and no randomisation was applied.

Quality of evidence[5]


Does the BTA recommend this treatment?

Yes, provided suitable medical supervision is available.

BTA opinion on this treatment:

Initial studies are promising. Further randomised controlled trials are necessary.

Would the BTA support further studies into this treatment?

Yes, provided study is of high quality.

Verdict: Safety – is this treatment harmful?

  Regarded as safe.

Verdict: Efficacy – does this treatment work?

  Some evidence that it is effective.


More randomised, placebo‐controlled, double‐blind studies with large sample sizes are needed to confirm the effectiveness of EMDR for tinnitus patients. Uniform, validated, tinnitus‐specific questionnaires and measurement scales should be used in future studies.

For further information

The BTA Tinnitus Support Team can answer your questions on any tinnitus related topics:

Telephone: 0800 018 0527
Web chat: – click on the icon
Email: [email protected]
Text/SMS: 07537 416841

We also offer a free tinnitus e-learning programme, Take on Tinnitus.

Download this information

This information is in PDF format.


We welcome feedback on all our information. You can pass your comments to our Communications Team:

Telephone: 0114 250 9933
Email: [email protected]
or by writing to us at the address below.


[1]  Phillips J, Erskine S, Moore T,  Nunney I, and Wright C. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing as a Treatment for Tinnitus, The Laryngoscope, 29 January 2019.

[2]  Rikkert M, van Rood Y, de Roos C, Ratter J, van den Hout M. A trauma-focused approach for patients with tinnitus: the effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing – a multicentre pilot trial. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. 2018;9(1):1512248. Published 2018 Sep 11. doi:10.1080/20008198.2018.1512248

[3] Luyten TR, Jacquemin L, Van Looveren N, Declau F, Fransen E, Cardon E, De Bodt M, Topsakal V, Van de Heyning P, Van Rompaey V, Gilles A. Bimodal Therapy for Chronic Subjective Tinnitus: A Randomized Controlled Trial of EMDR and TRT Versus CBT and TRT. Frontiers in Psychology. 2020 Sep 10;11:2048. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02048.

[4] D’Andréa G, Giacchero R, Roger C, Vandersteen C, Guevara N. Evaluation of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing in the management of tinnitus. An observational study. European Annals of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Diseases. 2022 Mar;139(2):65-71. doi: 10.1016/j.anorl.2021.06.002. Epub 2021 Jul 3.

[5] A = Systematic review/meta analysis. B = Randomised control studies. C = Cohort studies. D = Case control studies. E = case studies/reports. +/- to be used to indicate quality within bands

Author: Nic Wray

Version 2.0

Updated: 18 July 2022

To be reviewed: July 2025

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

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