Understanding dissociative language


In order to get a complete and comprehensive case conceptualization in Phase 1 of the EMDR protocol, it is important to explore dissociative symptomatology. But the cinicai picture of dissociation may be difficult to identify for inexperienced clinicians; some symptoms can be difficult to observe even for experienced therapist who haven't seen severe cases. in consultation we often find therapist who bring a 'complex case' for supervision and quite frequently this 'complexity' has to do with dissociation. Our goal with this presentation is to show the many different ways dissociation can be manifested during EMDR sessions. Another goal is to give practical examples of interventions with dissociative patients during EMDR processing. Many examples of subtle manifestations (what we call 'dissociative language') will be illustrated with video cases. Severely traumatized people don't communicate in a direct and clear way, they have their 'own language' and in order to understand the patient's inner world, we need to understand the silences, the somatic symptoms the subtle (and not so subtle) intrusions; all of these are frequent symptoms that the patient can't detect, understand or disclose to us (not directly). It is widely known that EMDR clinicians must be careful when dealing with dissociative patients; techniques that can be used during the stabilization phase have been developed for the treatment of dissociative disorders (Knipe, Forgash .......). These techniques are complementary to the basic protocols and are very useful but the problem arises when therapists are not able to identify and/or understand what we call the 'dissociative language'. We must keep in mind that most dissociative patients have grown in an early environment where their needs were not taken into account. Many never had the possibility to express their feelings openly. For this, it is important to focus and under^ stand the indirect, complex and ambivalent communication of these people especially during an EMDR session. The approach to these difficulties is not only a question of protocol modifications. but a complex learning from the therapist of the 'dissociative language'. Several examples from videos of therapy sessions and case descriptions will be presented.






Dolores Mosquera
Anabel Gonzalez

Original Work Citation

Mosquera, D., & Gonzalez, A. (2010, June). Understanding dissociative language. Presentation at the 11th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Hamburg, Germany



“Understanding dissociative language,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed August 12, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/19876.

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