Am I real?: Mobilizing inner strength to develop a mature identity


Chris was a 44-year old woman who had extremely low self-esteem, depression, panic attacks, and symptoms of dissociation when she began EMDR-facilitated therapy. Eye movement was used initially to reinforce healthy beliefs, physical sensations, and feelings related to experiences of safety, competence, well-being, and success based on prior learning. EMDR was then employed to target painful memories of childhood scenes with her parents, as well as erroneous beliefs and feelings of intense anxiety. Although none of the memories targeted occurred before age 5, the "white empty feeling" that was targeted seemed to represent the earlier deprivation. The desired positive cognition "I am significant" became the "umbrella cognition" containing various "sub-cognitions" (such as "I am loveable," "I deserve respect," and "I can take care of my needs").As Chris reprocessed traumatic childhood memories with EMDR, more and more of these sub-cognitions were integrated. Progress was not linear, but reprocessing the client's issues as she presented them gradually led to a more stable, flexible, and resilient sense of self. Eventually, the negative self-assessments dissipated. After 18 sessions Chris felt strong and confident, fully present, and eager to be involved in intimate relationships that were based on mutual respect.


Book Section




Joan M. Lovett

Original Work Citation

Lovett, J. M. (1998). Am I real?: Mobilizing inner strength to develop a mature identity. In P. Manfield (Ed.), Extending EMDR: A casebook of innovative applications (1st ed.) (pp. 191-216). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co



“Am I real?: Mobilizing inner strength to develop a mature identity,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed August 1, 2021,

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