EMDR and psychoanalysis



Although EMDR is clearly an integrative approach, it is an integrative approach with a strong cognitive-behavioral flavor. In this chapter, EMDR is examined and considered from a different vantage point. For some time, I too have been engaged in developing an integrative approach to therapy. However, apropos the previous paragraph, my integrative efforts have a different flavor; they are rooted most deeply in the psychodynamic tradition, not the cognitive- behavioral.As a consequence of my psychodynamic vantage point, my view and use of EMDR differ somewhat from the "classic" approach to EMDR. This chapter is thus likely to reflect clinical and theoretical views that differ in important ways from those of many of this book's other authors. However, my discussion does not constitute a critique of EMDR. I began using EMDR and am writing this chapter because I am intrigued by EMDR -- by its clinical potential, the experiences it seems to generate, and the challenges to theory and research that it presents. My goal is to expand our ways of viewing and thinking about EMDR, and to consider the ways in which EMDR can be enriched by a psychoanalytic perspective and vice versa. For an integration or combination of EMDR and psychoanalysis to be viable, two conditions must be satisfied. The differences must not be so fundamental and unbridgeable that any effort to bring the two approaches together is inherently incoherent and contradictory. At the same time, the differences must not be so trivial or superficial that putting them together adds little or nothing. The interface between EMDR and psychoanalysis meets both these conditions, and the chapter will attempt to demonstrate this as it proceeds.


Book Section




Paul L. Wachtel

Original Work Citation

Wachtel, P. L. (2002). EMDR and psychoanalysis. In F. Shapiro (Ed.), EMDR as an integrative psychotherapy approach: Experts of diverse orientations explore the paradigm prism (pp. 123-150). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association



“EMDR and psychoanalysis,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 25, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/17418.

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