The case of mistaken identity: EMDR, attachment and ego states in the treatment of eating disorders


Attachment and Ego States in the treatment of eating disorders is a 120 minute program, which introduces participants to 1. the kind of history taking, medical attention and goal establishment unique to clients with eating disorders, 2, the extensive preparation, which includes emotional expertise and somatic awareness, 3. the inevitable presence of dissociation and the use of ego state therapy to access the source of the eating disordered addiction, 4, the need for attachment repair and 5, slight modifications to trauma processing given emotional fragility and the tendency to return to the disorder. even after extensive preparation. The modifications entail A. a return to attachment/reparenting work, even during phases 3-6, a5 a way to 'pendulate' between the traumata and resources, B. the use of dissociation strategies, e.g., having the eating disordered part look through the eyes with the client, and C. titrating the target memories. THE CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY employs an EMDR phase model, which includes an evaluation phase, focusing on medical safety, case formulation and mutual goal creation. In the preparation phase, participants will learn a4-step method of teaching emotional competence, and the use of ego state therapy to free the self from identity with the disordered part&), and strategies for attachment repair. Preparation and Processing phases both require body awareness and acceptance, as well as the ability to titrate released disturbance and re-stabilize (Re-evaluation) after EMDR application to touchstone events. Video clips, case studies and case reviews will reinforce learning. Learning objectives: 1 Participants will describe the trauma-based purpose for dissociation in eating disorders, 2 will describe the practice of awareness and four steps to emotional competence. 3. will name two ego-state strategies methods in identifying and collaborating with ego states, 4. two attachment repair methods, and 5. describe two minor adaptations to the processing phase. WHAT IS NEW: Eating disorder treatment often recognizes, but rarely offers treatment solutions, to the traumatic origins of an eating disorder. This fact, coupled with a lack of awareness of the role of attachment injury and dissociation, renders many of the contemporary approaches to eating disorder treatment incomplete and often ineffective.






Andrew Seubert

Original Work Citation

Seubert, A. (2010, June). The case of mistaken identity: EMDR, attachment and ego states in the treatment of eating disorders. Poster presented at the 11th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Hamburg, Germany



“The case of mistaken identity: EMDR, attachment and ego states in the treatment of eating disorders,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 26, 2020,

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