Personality disorders and EMDR

Persönlichkeitsstörungen und EMDR


Patients with personality disorders have many difficulties in their daily functioning; many have histories of traumatic events and insecure attachment. In this workshop we will focus on cluster B personality disorders, and especially on borderlines. We will try to explain the interrelation of the DSM criteria (how they “feed” on each other) and how they are fed on these early events. To understand these aspects is basic for an adequate case-conceptualization in Phase 1. Early relational trauma impacts the developmental trajectory of the future adult and this will have a deep effect on how this adult relates to others. People with personality disorders and complex trauma have many difficulties when it comes to relating to others. One of the aspects that makes personality disorders difficult to manage is the intense emotional reactions that arise in the therapist during EMDR sessions. The management of relational difficulties is a core aspect in the treatment of personality disorders, and the solid basis where EMDR should develop. The stabilization phase has been remarked as essential prior to trauma work with EMDR.

But being true this assumption, two aspects need further development. The first is to establish when a patient is ready for trauma processing since frequently the stabilization phase is unnecessarily prolonged by therapists who don´t feel secure enough working with EMDR in this clinic group. The second is the development of specific interventions from EMDR, and not just the “importation” of foreign techniques, without an adequate theoretical framework. In this workshop we will go deeper into this topic. Trauma processing in personality disorders implies many specificities that we should have in mind. Knowing these specific aspects, trauma processing with EMDR can be safely implemented in these patients. Borderline patients can get better with different therapies but only EMDR is able to get to symptoms such as “emptiness”. The effect of EMDR therapy is evident in clinic experience, even when specific research is still under development.

Learning objectives: One interesting aspect of this workshop is the integration of theoretical exposition and the presentation of videos cases, in order to understand how to manage relational problems with this clinical group (a group with important patient-therapist relationship problems) and specific aspects of EMDR therapy in these patients. The general structure of EMDR therapy in personality disorders, interventions for the preparation phase and considerations for trauma EMDR work will be showed and explained.






Dolores Mosquera
Anabel Gonzalez

Original Work Citation

Mosquera, D., & Gonzalez, A. (2011, June). Personality disorders and EMDR [Persnlichkeitsstrungen und EMDR]. Presentation at the 12th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Vienna, Austria



“Personality disorders and EMDR Persönlichkeitsstörungen und EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 16, 2021,

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