The marriage of EMDR and ego state theory in couples therapy


Great strides have been made in applying EMDR to different populations with a variety of diagnoses. Integrating this powerful treatment into couples therapy is relatively new and very promising. By augmenting EMDR with the explanatory power and clinical inventiveness of ego state theory, couples therapy can be brought to new levels of efficacy. Through didactic presentation and case illustration, participants will understand the relational nature of the Self, psychobiological and psychodynamic mechanisms of attachment, the structure of the relational self, and the challenges of individuation/differentiation. In addition, all participants will learn and be able to access the intergenerational pathogenesis of ego fragmentation, and will be able to identify clinical manifestations of ego state conflict in conjoint sessions, including the doublebind, split loyalty, and reenactments. Participants will be able to use this learning to diagnose the interlock of negative cognitions in their client couples, and implement strategies to contract for individually-focused EMDR therapy. Participants will be able to explain to clients the risks and benefits of conjoint EMDR, and understand the contraindications for conjoint EMDR. Participants will learn a model of EMDR treatment planning that includes target selection and salience, and will be able to utilize a progressive sequence of techniques for facilitation EMDR processing with dissociative clients who are blocked, looping, or at risk of abreaction.






Barry K. Litt

Original Work Citation

Litt, B. K. (2006, September). The marriage of EMDR and ego state theory in couples therapy. Presentation at the 11th EMDR International Association Conference, Philadelphia, PA



“The marriage of EMDR and ego state theory in couples therapy,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 25, 2020,

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