Integrating emotion for attached-disordered and dissociated children


The accessibility of emotions in children with attachment disorders is known to be complex at best. This presentation looks at a new method of enabling children disassociating from emotions with severe attachment disorder and complex, traumatic histories to access emotions using the installation phase of EMDR. For teaching purposes, this presentation will use real-life cases of 4 attachment disordered children where none of the children were able to access emotions and were attachment disordered. The children were aged between 12 to 13 years of age and all had a diagnosis of attachment disorder, co-morbid with post traumatic stress disorder. Most of the children did not experience emotions directly. Using the installation phase of EMDR within the context of a one-to-one therapy session, each child was asked to focus on a particular emotion and focus on where in their body they experienced any feelings, which may be associated to that emotion. The children began to describe complex emotions, which they had never previously expressed, prior to this. An example of one child�s experience follows: �I feel sad in my heart. It feels cold � as if someone has smashed it into a thousand bits��. Following on this, all the children were also encouraged to sit with their new emotions and not to be afraid of them. One child stated: �It feels good to be sad. When I cry � that stops my heart hurting so much and the tears make the glue to fix my broken heart.� So far, we have not experienced an unsuccessful outcome; however, this method is still in the early stages of being developed.






Susan Darker-Smith

Original Work Citation

Darker-Smith, S. (2008, June). Integrating emotion for attached-disordered and dissociated children. Presentation at the 9th EMDR International Association Conference, London, England



“Integrating emotion for attached-disordered and dissociated children,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed February 25, 2021,

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