Healing the heart of trauma: Restoring connections and stability


When trauma victims enter therapy, they generally seek help for symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety. However, additional trauma responses may lead the client to encounter difficulty in dealing with the trauma and also with the trauma and also with relationships in their life. These responses also include the inability to love, nurture and bond with other individuals (even those currently in relationship to victim). These clients often experience feeling internally fragmented, detached, alienated and fearfully isolated. Gathering this information is an important part of history taking and becomes crucial to treatment planning. The aim of this presentation is to help clinicians learn to implement strategies that help traumatized clients to experience reconnection, stability, and then, trauma processing. Integrating ego state strategies with the preparation phase of the EMDR protocol results in a safety/stability focused therapeutic approach necessary for these clients to resolve the sequelae of trauma.

Emphasis is placed on the sequential formulation of guided imaginal and somatosensory exercises (enhanced with DAW) that provide stability for the dissociated aspects of the self unable to cope with symptoms and current stresses. The central work includes the development of an internal Home Base, Workplace, and a positive body resource that compliments the standard safe place/stress reduction work. Stabilizing exercises include constructive avoidance, distancing, grounding, containment as well as affect and dissociative symptom management techniques. When stabilized, client’s access and work with their ego state system to resolve conflicts, develop resources, reconnect and then successfully desensitize and reprocess trauma.

Learning objective include: the importance of including information in the history taking about an inability to love, loss of connections, fragmentation, detachment and alienation; defining the ego state strategies that help such client s successfully process traumas with the EMDR protocol; learning the preparation exercises for managing affect and dissociative symptoms. Participants will select the appropriate interventions to help trauma clients reconnect with dissociated, disconnected parts and employ this sequential method in their practice with traumatized clients.






Carol Forgash

Original Work Citation

Forgash, C. (2004, June). Healing the heart of trauma: Restoring connections and stability. Presentation at the 5th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Stockholm, Sweden



“Healing the heart of trauma: Restoring connections and stability,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 24, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/19399.

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