Treating attachment issues through EMDR and a family systems approach



The difficult behaviors exhibited by children who meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) can be challenging to both parents and professionals. Utilizing the point of view of three models--attachment, Adaptive Information Processing, and family systems--can enhance the clinician's understanding of attachment-related symptoms. Although the models hold shared views, each brings an additional piece of the puzzle to case conceptualization and treatment planning. Family systems therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy are different but complementary approaches to improving attachment relationships. Some general treatment strategies combining a family systems approach with an EMDR approach that are helpful in working with families affected by disturbed parent-child attachments are presented here. Case examples and a concluding discussion complete the chapter.


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Debra Wesselmann

Original Work Citation

Wesselmann, D. (2007). Treating attachment issues through EMDR and a family systems approach. In F. Shapiro, F. W. Kaslow, & L. Maxfield (Eds.), Handbook of EMDR and family therapy processes (pp.113-130). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc



“Treating attachment issues through EMDR and a family systems approach,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 19, 2021,

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