Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Its role in the treatment of dissociative disorder


Eye Movement Desenitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a procedure which uses saccadic eye movements as part of a protrocol to detoxify disturbing memories. EMDR has attracted significant attention because of its claims to facilitate recall of repressed material and to relieve the anxiety rapidly. Some patients are able to recall and resolve a disturbing memory during a single session of EMDR, although complex memories require longer. Shapiro (1989, 1991) first described the use of EMDR in patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other case studies have described similar results (Wolpe and Abrams, 1991; Kleinknecht & Morgan, 1992). Prelimary studies in larger groups have been reported (Solomon, 1993; Daniels, 1993; Wilson, 1993). This session will discuss the use of EMDR in patients with dissociative disorders.

This session will present the use of EMDR in three areas of the treatment of dissociative disorders: 1) accessing dissociated BASK elements, 2) crisis management, and 3) abreaction. This will be followed by a discussion involving two senior clinicians, Dr. Walter Young, MD, and Richard Lowenstein, MD. A general question and answer will follow.

1. Sandra Paulsen, PhD., will open the session with a general introduction to EMDR and an overview of the general principles of treatment. Following this, she will present a conceptual framework for understanding the use of EMDR insociative disorders using Braun's BASK model. A videotape will be presented which demonstrates the reassociation, one at a time, of BASK elements.

2) Silke Vogelmann-Sine, PhD, will present cases illustrating the use of EMDR in the management of patients in crisis. It will be suggested that the relief provided by EMDR is long-lasting and that EMDR is a cost-effective way to prevent hospitalizations.

3) Steven Lazrove, MD, will discuss the use of EMDR in abreaction. It is proposed that EMDR allows the abreactive work to progress quiickly without traumatizing the patient. This hyposesis will be supported by the presentation of a case including a videotape of the patient's initial EMDR session.

The purpose of this symposium is to expose clinicians to the use of EMDR in dissociative disorders, only. It is not intended to substitute for formal training in use of EMDR.






Sandra L. Paulsen

Original Work Citation

Paulsen, S. L. (1993, October). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Its role in the treatment of dissociative disorder. In Multiple personality/dissociative states: Dissociation: the next ten years. Presentation at the International Society for the Study of Dissociation 10th Annual International Conference, Chicago, IL



“Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: Its role in the treatment of dissociative disorder,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 26, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/17992.

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