EMDR and affect centered therapy


Aim: This presentation will describe the integration of principles of emotion regulation into EMDR therapy for a range of disorders. Population: All ages; mostly Axis I and II disorders. Learning objectives: 1) to describe the development of emotion regulation beginning in the context of the attachment and continuing through adolescence; 2) to describe the origin of emotion dysregulation and psychopathology in deficit experience adversity, and trauma; 3) to describe a protocol, Affect Management Skills Training (AMST), that remediates failures of emotion regulation; 4) to describe how AMST prepares the client for uncovering therapy by providing for containment, safety, emotion regulation, improved left-right hemisphere integration, and remediation of attachment deficits; 5) to describe integration of MAST into EMDR therapies for substance abuse and eating disorders. Abstract: The workshop will summarize the principal affective developments that occur from birth through age four. These include fulfillment of yearning affect, facial imprinting, gaze transaction, stimulation of positive affect, and provision of optimal disapproval-shame experiences. The qualities of the child of “good enough” parenting are described. Developmental failures and their consequences for affect regulation and psychopathology will be described. These include: (1) avoidant attachment leading to problems of anger management, to depression, and development of narcissistic features; (2) anxious-ambivalent attachment leading to development of anxiety-related disorders and borderline features; (3) failure to elicit optimal positive affects leading to impaired vitality across the life span and depression; (4) socialization of the senior toddler with anger, leading to problems with anger expression, or with disgust, leading to problems with shame, impaired self-worth, and defective self-efficacy. Adversity (raised by a single parent, witness to spousal abuse, divorce, substance abuse in the home) and trauma (psychological, physical, and/or sexual abuse) occurring during latency and adolescence will be shown to exacerbate difficulties with emotional regulation.

The seven basic skills of the AMST protocol will be described. These skills provide for regocnition, tolerance, and regulation of both positive and negative emtoins. They include containment, safe place, sensation-affect recognition, sensation-as-signal, grounded and present, noticing, and regulation.

The workshop will describe how AMST prepares the client for uncovering therapy and for EMDR by teaching the client to regulate emotion prior to it elicitation in therapy, by improving hemispheric integration, and by correcting deficits in the attachment.

The workshop concludes by describing how MAST is integrated into EMDR therapy for substance abuse disorders (alcohol, drugs, nicotine) and eating disorders.






John Omaha

Original Work Citation

Omaha, J. (2004, June). EMDR and affect centered therapy. Presentation at the 5th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Stockholm, Sweden



“EMDR and affect centered therapy,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 24, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/19397.

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