Mindfulness as a stabilisation tools for trauma processing


Both EMDR and Trauma-Focused CBT are the two main recommended treatments for symptoms of trauma meeting diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In accordance with current literature, contrasting the use of Trauma-Focused CBT with EMDR, it has been found in practise by the author that overall, clients using EMDR experience significantly less long-term distress and appears to process much more quickly than clients engaging in trauma-focused CBT. However, the effect of bodily sensations does not tend to differ between the two groups nor does flashbacks or dissociative tendencies.

Specifically, dissociation is not uncommon in traumatised clients and in clients with a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder. The existence of dissociative tendencies can pose a realistic problem in effectively processing traumatic memories, regardless of whether the method being used is trauma-focused cognitive-behavioural exposure-based methods or EMDR.

Mindfulness has been utilised by the Author as a stabilisation method for reducing dissociation in clients, prior to trauma processing (CEP conference – Darker-Smith, 2005) and has since been found to reduce dissociation on the DES scale, when measured pre and post teaching clients the basics of the MBSR programme (taught on a 1-to-1 basis).

Equally, the level of flashbacks and bodily reactions subside dramatically when Mindfulness is taught prior to trauma processing, compared with clients who engage in trauma processing without any form of stabilisation.

The author has not found any evidence that the use of Mindfulness body-scan increases traumatic body memory in trauma survivors.

The purpose of this workshop is to explore the application of mindfulness, through experiencing aspects of the Mindfulness programme. Case studies will be presented to demonstrate the application of mindfulness as a stabilisation took, paying specific attention to clients with dissociative tendencies and personality disorders evolving from trauma.

In addition, role plays between participants will be used to practise the skills of mindfulness in relation to stabilisation prior to trauma processing.






Susan Darker-Smith

Original Work Citation

Darker-Smith, S. (2007, June). Mindfulness as a stabilisation tools for trauma processing. Poster presented at the 8th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Paris, France



“Mindfulness as a stabilisation tools for trauma processing,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 22, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/19358.

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