Insecure and disorganized attachments profoundly affect the developmental trajectory of the future adult (Bowlby, 1986). In clients with an early history of trauma, emotional neglect in childhood attachment relationships increases the risk of developing complex trauma disorders such as borderline personality disorder and dissociative disorders.
Early childhood caregivers’ affective signals and lack of contingent availability present a more common perceived threat to the child’s development of a secure sense of self and of capacities to trust, than the level of physical danger or risk for the child’s survival. These “hidden traumas”, which result in habitual deactivating responses to attachment cues, are related to the caretaker’s inability to modulate affective dysregulation (Schuder & Lyons-Ruth, 2004).
Attachment theory is highly congruent with the adaptive information processing (AIP) model. Attachment organization is central to the organization of memory networks and to the distinctive ways individuals with different attachment organization process emotional information about self and other. Although the roles of insecure and disorganized attachments have been increasingly recognized in the professional literature on EMDR therapy in recent years (Gomez 2012, 2013; Mosquera, Gonzalez, & Leeds, 2014; Perez-Dandieu et al., 2015; Ringel 2014; Wesselmann 2007; Wesselmann & Potter, 2009; Wesselmann et al., 2012; Wesselmann, Schweitzer, & Armstrong, 2014; Zaccagnino & Cussino, 2013), few clinicians have received specific EMDR training in recognizing the impact of attachment classification on the 8 phases of EMDR therapy.
Understanding the role of attachment classification from perspective of the AIP model is crucial for developing an adequate EMDR therapy case conceptualization and to plan a targeting sequence. Adult attachment classifications have a direct impact on patients’ abilities to provide a relevant and complete history and to prepare for EMDR reprocessing including their responses to the calm/safe place, RDI, and other self-regulation exercises. secure, insecure and disorganized attachment on standard EMDR reprocessing procedures.
This workshop will illustrate how attachment patterns show up in EMDR therapy sessions and how to adapt EMDR therapy interventions to each case along the eight phases of EMDR therapy. Tools to enhance EMDR reprocessing in cases with attachment disturbances will be illustrated through videos and case examples.
Bowlby, J. (1988). Parent-child attachment and healthy human development. New York: Basic Books.
Gomez, A. M. (2012). Healing the caregiving system: Working with parents within a comprehensive EMDR treatment. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 6(3), 136-144. doi:10.1891/1933-3220.127.116.11
Gomez, A. M. (2013). EMDR therapy and adjunct approaches with children complex trauma, attachment, and dissociation. New York, N.Y.: Springer Pub.
Mosquera, D., Gonzalez, A., & Leeds, A. M. (2014). Early experience, structural dissociation, and emotional dysregulation in borderline personality disorder: The role of insecure and disorganized attachment. Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation, 1(15), 1-8. doi:10.1186/2051-6673-1-15
Perez-Dandieu, B., Lenoir, H., Othily, E., Tapia, G., Cassen, M., & Delile, J. -M. (2015). The impact of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and schema therapy on addiction severity among a sample of french women suffering from PTSD and SUD. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 146, e68-e69.
Ringel, S. (2014). An integrative model in trauma treatment: Utilizing eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and a relational approach with adult survivors of sexual abuse. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 31(1), 134. doi:10.1037/a0030044
Wesselmann, D. (2007). Treating attachment issues through EMDR and a family systems approach. In F. Shapiro, F. W. Kaslow, & L. Maxfield (Eds.), Handbook of EMDR and family therapy processes (pp. 113-130). Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
Wesselmann, D., & Potter, A. E. (2009). Change in adult attachment status following treatment with EMDR: Three case studies. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 3(3), 178-191. doi:10.1891/1933-318.104.22.168
Wesselmann, D., Davidson, M., Armstrong, S., Schweitzer, C., Bruckner, D., & Potter, A. E. (2012). EMDR as a treatment for improving attachment status in adults and children. Revue Européenne De Psychologie Appliquée/European Review of Applied Psychology, 62(4), 223 - 230. doi:10.1016/j.erap.2012.08.008
Wesselmann, D., Schweitzer, C., & Armstrong, S. (2014). Integrative team treatment for attachment trauma in children : Family therapy and EMDR. New York: W. W. Norton.
Zaccagnino, M., & Cussino, M. (2013). EMDR and parenting: A clinical case. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 7(3), 154-166. doi:10.1891/1933-322.214.171.124