EMDR & Dissociation: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future
Early in the development of EMDR therapy, some clinicians observed that reprocessing more often moved clients presenting with dissociative disorders into dysregulated states rather than toward an expected, adaptive resolution. Neuroscience research has since provided biological evidence for dissociation, in areas of the brain also shown to be related to the mechanisms of EMDR therapy.
In recent years, EMDR therapists and trainers have become more broadly aware of the incidence and significance of complex trauma and dissociation. With this shift, many have delved deeper into the dissociative disorders literatures, strived to utilize screening and assessment tools more effectively, and grown increasingly interested to integrate their learnings to reinforce foundational learning and improve treatment outcomes. Current research will inform this discussion, exploring the different frameworks for understanding dissociation, the importance of diagnostic evaluation in Phase I: History Taking, and conceptualization and treatment of dissociative presentations within an EMDR therapy frame.
Present-day EMDR therapy practice with dissociative individuals reflects importation from other techniques, methods, and therapies, resulting both in modifications to traditional EMDR therapy approaches and the development of new, hybridized interventions to ensure safe treatment of clients with dissociative symptoms. However, most of this integration has been unidirectional, seemingly in service of an attempt to treat complex trauma and dissociative disorders solely within an EMDR therapy paradigm. This approach appears to be dissociated from a number of complicating factors that will be explored. Integration that is bi-directional or integrating EMDR therapy into modalities more suited for comprehensive treatment of dissociative disorders has been recommended since 1995 and the first publication of the EMDR Dissociative Disorders Task Force Recommended Guidelines, which is printed in each following iteration of Francine Shapiro’s textbook.
The future of EMDR therapy used to treat dissociation depends on clinicians and trainers integrating a comprehensive standard of care with nuanced conceptual, theoretical, and practical treatment considerations. This workshop will conclude with a discussion of clinician and training factors which may inform the future of EMDR therapy and dissociation. (Please note that this workshop presumes that attendees have completed EMDR therapy training and are familiar with basic concepts related to dissociation and the dissociative disorders).
This session was originally presented as a live conference session in April 2022.
At the conclusion of this presentation, participants will be able to:
- Explain why EMDR therapy may operate differently in the brain experiences of persons experiencing dissociative symptoms and dissociative disorders
- Explain why the associations that normally occur in EMDR therapy may be destabilizing to persons who experience dissociation of the personality
- Analyze established modifications to standard EMDR therapy for application in the treatment of persons with dissociative symptoms and disorders
- Describe the rationale for utilizing EMDR therapy within a broader treatment frame that is more suited for comprehensive conceptualization and treatment of dissociation
- Identify 3 therapist and training factors which support effective conceptualization and treatment of dissociation and the dissociative disorders
- 1.50 APAThe International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation maintains responsibility for this program and its content.
- 1.50 ASWB ACEThe International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD), #1744, is approved to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. ISSTD maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 08/20/2021 – 08/20/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 1.50 continuing education credits.
- 1.50 ISSTD Certificate ProgramThis program is eligible for 1.50 credits in the ISSTD Certificate Program.
"Your Price" above reflects your final price based on your membership status and career level.
- ISSTD defines a student as those enrolled in a program of study leading to a degree or certification in the mental health field and who have an interest in trauma and dissociation.
- ISSTD defines an emerging professional as mental health professionals who have completed an advanced degree and are in the first three years of their career (or first three years after graduation for researchers).
- If you do not fall into one of the above categories please register as Professional/Retired.
These prices are for Tier I countries. For a list of countries by Tier click here. If you are located in a country that falls into Tier II-VI please contact ISSTD at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the appropriate discount code.