Since its inception, EMDR has been helping people conquer their symptoms of PTSD. While it has been widely utilized by therapists, with great success protocols to address developmental trauma have been a great addition to this already effective therapy. The original model has been adjusted to become applicable to a greater population of people dealing with relational and developmental trauma and CPTSD. The AF-EMDR model tackles the foundation–the attachment style–to then heal trauma. Here is the scoop on Attachment-Focused EMDR.
EMDR vs Attachment-Focused-EMDR (AF-EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy method that allows people to heal from traumatic life experiences that manifest in troubling symptoms like nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance, withdrawal and difficulty in relationships. It requires therapists to use bilateral sensory input, like eye movement or tapping, while processing painful images. EMDR helps people recall and process memories so that they no longer hold the same emotional charge. Once the memory is processed and integrated, it can be held like other memories and not fragmented into pieces that intrude into the present. The memory can become less threatening and evoke less psychological arousal. The new associations result in new learning that develop cognitive awareness. EMDR is primarily used to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and can be used to complement treatments for depression and anxiety from trauma.
Attachment-Focused Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (AF-EMDR) uses a modified protocol for EMDR that focuses on the attachments people form with a parental figure during childhood. Dr. Laurel Parnell created AF-EMDR after integrating the latest research on attachment theory and the use of EMDR. AF-EMDR addresses the effects of neglect and abuse on the developing brain and how it manifests in various attachment styles. The model intends to heal early attachment wounds. AF-EMDR is designed to heal relational trauma and it can especially help those who have insecure attachment styles and relational trauma. This type of trauma can include sexual or physical abuse, neglect, parental misattunement, betrayal or having parents with drug or alcohol abuse problems or mental illness.
AF-EMDR incorporates an understanding that with developmental trauma the lack of safety, and security in childhood leads to adaptive strategies that can persist into adulthood, ultimately causing significant distress. Using Resourcing, Tapping, Bilateral Stimulation, and visualization, trauma can be integrated and reprocessed so that it no longer has a profound negative effect on the present. With AF-EMDR, clients will visualize and internalize a peaceful place using their imagination. Often individuals with developmental trauma have never had a safe place so we use imagination to create one. Imagination can impact the brain in the same way as lived experience, thereby creating new neural pathways. Clients can return to this space whenever they need to during therapy and outside of sessions. AF-EMDR also uses an imagined support team to assist the client. Through imagination, the support team can provide experiences that the client may not have had, or not have had enough of. With EMDR, a client will be exposed to bilateral stimulation through eye movement, sound, tapping or sensors, while exploring troubling memories. Using resourcing, clients will be able to add and deepen the ability to feel soothed, comforted, guided and protected. Because AF-EMDR can also help people gain a sense of internal regulation, interpersonal relationships can also be positively affected.
Why Trauma and Beyond Center ®?
We are a holistic treatment center specializing in treating trauma so that you can live with an increased capacity to embrace yourself and the world around you. Learn how attachment-focused EMDR can help you. To set up an appointment, call (818) 651-0725.