When all you have is 90 minutes: A systemic approach to EMDR case conceptualization in times of stress following crisis


When all you have is 90 minutes with the hysterical and/or traumatized client in times of crisis, efficient planning and conceptualization of EMDR casework is essential.

Using EMD(R) as a means of reducing immediate exacerbated stress is effectively enhanced with a genogram format that is brief, and specifically focuses on learned generational reactions to trauma. By tapping into the trans-generational information the processing in crises is facilitated and enhanced.

This suggested case conceptualization and genogram format quickly highlights inherited strengths and resources which is the client’s historical legacy. The client gains perspective recognizes that survival and overcoming the crisis is possible and acquires insight into valuable resources.

Following a crisis, when EMDR therapist and client first meet, the 1st stage is the retelling of the event.

After the story has been told, the EMDR therapist begins to gather historical family information. This has the effect of moving the client one tiny step away from crisis and calming the individual sufficiently for the therapist to begin to assess resources, and potential resources within the family system,

Additionally, the EMDR therapist finds resources for more meaningful and relevant cognitive interweaves while at the same item protecting himself from vicarious traumatization, compassion fatigue, and burn out. The suggested case conceptualization and multi-generational genogram use, uncovers inherited small t and large T trauma material and anxieties as well as leaned dysfunctional behavior patterns which are compounded over time, and which become a source of exacerbated present crisis reactions.

Once identified and recognized this accesses information enables a deeper and faster healing experience for the client.

The therapist recognizes potential pitfalls which may appear during the desensitization of the current crisis and is better prepared to formulate efficient cognitive interweaves as needs, for the current crisis resolution, without going in the reprocessing of the old trauma. This process fine tunes and fine lines the standard protocol for the EMDR session used in crisis interventions.

This format is adaptable and equally useful in standard consulting room sessions with clients for more effective case conceptualization for EMDR sessions. This multigenerational systemic approach enhances attunement, therapeutic clarity and the well being of the individual. It produces insight, recognizes resources and inner strengths and learned behavior patterns quickly

Case examples and a practicum will teach and enable participants to learn and assess for themselves how this multi-generational genogram approach unveils historical characteristics and learned behavior patterns. This systemic approach leads to enhance EMDR case conceptualization, enabling better formulation and accuracy of EMDR protocol components such as the NC and PC to attain more effective processing.






Frances R. Yoeli
Tessa Prattos

Original Work Citation

Yoeli, F. R., & Prattos, T. (2007, June). When all you have is 90 minutes: A systemic approach to EMDR case conceptualization in times of stress following crisis. Presentation at the 8th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Paris, France



“When all you have is 90 minutes: A systemic approach to EMDR case conceptualization in times of stress following crisis,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 16, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/19347.

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