Theory and practice at the interface of EMDR and systemic psychotherapy


Theory - EMDR can be seen as working on one level of the human system - the neurobiological level. However the human brain is formed and is constantly changed by it’s interactions with others. The neurobiology of relationships is an expanding field and I will be arguing that EMDR and systemic theory have much to offer each other at this juncture. I will be putting forward my ideas about the scope for creative thinking and practice at the interface of these paradigms. By utilizing the client’s relationships and seeing them as a resource in the EMDR, EMDR practitioners can facilitate change at that wider level. In order to make the presentation accessible to those who are not particularly familiar with current systemic theory, I will briefly outline some of the main systemic principles currently in use. Practice - I will illustrate my theoretical points with examples from my EMDR practice where I have: 1) included more than one family member in the room at the same time; 2) where parallel work has been done with the family and the individual; and 3) where I have incorporated significant systemic thinking into my work with an individual. These examples will demonstrate skills in applying EMDR within a broad systemic frame. They will illustrate how EMDR can enhance relationships, and conversely, how systemic thinking can enhance the application of EMDR.






Karen Beswick

Original Work Citation

Beswick, K. (2008, June). Theory and practice at the interface of EMDR and systemic psychotherapy. Presentation at the 9th EMDR International Association Conference, London, England



“Theory and practice at the interface of EMDR and systemic psychotherapy,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed August 8, 2020,

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