Healing Attachment Trauma with EMDR Therapy

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We already know that EMDR Therapy relieves PTSD symptoms related to traumatic events. Now the new science of neuroplasticity helps us recognize that we can actually heal our earliest wounds; those related to our attachment and that form the template for relationships throughout our lives.

Not very long ago the brain was believed to be a physiologically static organ that only changed during the critical period of early childhood. Then we entered the age of the brain. Now we have technologies such as positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans. They allow us to see changes in patterns of neural activity. This science of neuroplasticity now has several decades of evidence demonstrating that changes in neural activity occur across the lifespan.

As a result of such research, we now realize that the brain may be “re-wired” by relationships throughout our lifespan. Healthy relationships allow us to shape and be shaped in the directions that most serve us. The challenge is that we tend to re-create relationships that match what we know. Deep inside we may expect to be rejected and we enact this expectation by either choosing a partner who is rejecting or acting in a manner evokes that response in another. Psychotherapy helps clients take responsibility for their part of perpetuating this dynamic.

Looking back at the earliest relationships we see that healthy relationships are formed through a relational exchange that allows us to feel, attune, and respond to another. Healing early attachment in psychotherapy requires the same set of skills. Because early attachment occurred before we could talk, as adults we cannot simply think our way through this change, it needs to be felt and experienced to be healed.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy is a comprehensive approach to therapy that integrates elements of psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies to maximize treatment effects. EMDR Therapy with an emphasis on a healing attachment trauma provides a present-centered, felt experience of connection. Effective therapy allows clients to develop new relationship expectations and find meaningful connections in the world.

EMDR Therapists can improve the efficacy of their work by integrating an understanding of attachment trauma and early developmental trauma into their work.

In the Somatic EMDR Workshop, “Somatic EMDR Tools for Attachment Trauma” – which Barb Maiberger and I created together – EMDR Therapists will have an opportunity to learn how to recognize their own attachment history and how this impacts their role as therapists. Therapists will learn to manage affect regulation during EMDR Therapy and discover how to work successfully with early developmental, attachment targets. Barb and I hope you and/or your colleagues can attend the training to learn more about healing attachment trauma with EMDR Therapy.


Click to learn more about “Somatic EMDR Tools for Attachment Trauma”


Arielle-SchwartzThis post was written by guest blogger, Dr. Arielle Schwartz.

Dr. Arielle Schwartz, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, is an EMDRI Approved Consultant and instructor with Maiberger Institute offering Somatic EMDR Workshops including “Somatic EMDR Tools for Attachment Trauma,” and “Somatic EMDR Tools for Trauma Treatment.” She maintains a private practice in Boulder, CO and maintains a blog on therapy efficacy, mind-body therapies, and resilience.


Related Somatic EMDR Workshop

Somatic EMDR Tools for Attachment Trauma

Somatic EMDR Workshops - Somatic EMDR Tools for Attachment Trauma

This two-day Somatic EMDR Workshop — created by Barb Maiberger and Dr. Arielle Schwartz, authors of “EMDR Therapy and Somatic Psychology: Interventions to Enhance Embodiment” — is designed to help EMDR therapists learn an integrative approach in working with Attachment trauma. Therapists learning EMDR therapy are not trained to work with attachment trauma in their initial training and the impact it has on the body and mind. Clients who experience preverbal memories can feel overwhelmed which can shut down reprocessing through dissociation and a disconnect from the body. Learning how to work with preverbal memories by incorporating somatic skills is an essential for all EMDR therapists who want to help their clients heal at a profound core level. Without effective treatment, attachment trauma can be passed onto the next generation. This work can help clients broaden their capacity to have healthy interpersonal relationships that can be fostered in the world.  This workshop will be taught by Dr. Arielle Schwartz, who is highly skilled and brings her own unique experiences and wealth of knowledge into the workshop.

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Image Source: “family-492891_640” by towbar via Pixabay (CC – Creative Commons)