EMDR is an evidence-based therapy, originally developed to treat post traumatic stress disorder resulting from incidents such as motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters, or being the victim of a physical or sexual assault. While I am trained to treat such single-incident traumas, I am also trained in Attachment-Focused EMDR. This modified protocol was specifically developed to treat relational and developmental trauma as described by Dr. Laurel Parnell:
“Clients who have experienced childhood traumas that have impacted their sense of safety and capacity to form close emotional relationships in adulthood require adjustments to the EMDR phases and procedural steps. These relational traumas can include childhood physical or sexual abuse, neglect, early losses, birth trauma, medical trauma, parental drug or alcohol abuse, caregiver misattunement, vicarious trauma… These traumas also include the narcissistic injuries to the development of a “true self”. These clients were not allowed to experience their true feelings and to know themselves. In order to be loved, they adapted to the needs of their parents or caretakers, developing what Winnicott described as a “false self”. These clients often present in therapy as depressed, with relationship difficulties or problems at work. They don’t feel fully alive. In order for EMDR therapists to work most successfully with this population it is important to incorporate an attachment-repair orientation to all phases of EMDR work… The combination of Resource Tapping (building new neuronal pathways with imagination and bilateral stimulation) and targeting trauma memories via EMDR is showing promising results even with clients who have had years of psychotherapy with little progress”.
Such positive results are possible because of the brain’s plasticity; it is capable of deep transformation given the right support. I personally have found that Attachment-Focused EMDR, built upon a foundation of safety and trust, provides the perfect cradle for potentially profound healing.