Looking through the eyes: EMDR, Ego state & somatic therapies across the dissociative continuum


There are two workshops that are similar, in that they describe ways to work with dissociative clients in the phased approach recommended by the Treatment Guidelines of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, to which Dr. Paulsen contributed for the Third Revision That phased approach emphasizes stabilization and containment before conducting EMDR, and then using a measured approach to pace the use of EMDR for maximal safety for dissociative clients. The first workshop ["Looking Through the Eyes: EMDR & Ego State Therapy Across the Dissociative Continuum” with its own entry] teaches the ego state methods to do stabilization and containment. This second workshop describes somatic methods as well as ego state methods, making that workshop very full indeed. This workshop will elaborate on the key phase of stabilization, before ever conducting EMDR for a dissociative client. It will describe ways to increase affect tolerance, employ somatic resourcing, and other somatic methods to reconfigure ego states, use a two-step containment strategy for traumatic material and for ego states. A key focus is on working directly with perpetrator introjects or other “monstrous” disowned or shameful parts, to minimize resistance and internal conflict. Leading edge methods for resetting affective circuits and clearing very early attachment trauma will be touched upon. Partipants will be able to: 1. Explain why and when to assess every client for degree of dissociation prior to doing EMDR and choose an appropriate protocol, 2. Utilize a phased approach to therapy, including EMDR when and where appropriate, for complex dissociative clients, 3. List six tactics for stabilizing clients, prior to doing EMDR for dissociative clients to increase rapport, increase soma tolerance, contain affect, orient to present circumstances, reduce inner conflict, and build coping resources, 4. Prepare for EMDR processing using ego state and other methods to clarify roles and plan the work, 5. Structure EMDR sessions using imagery, ego state interventions (and somatic methods, for the second workshop) for pacing, fractionating and trouble shooting the work, and 6. For the somatic version of the workshop, list several somatic interventions to assist with various phases work with dissociative clients.






Sandra L. Paulsen

Original Work Citation

Paulsen, S. L. (2009). Looking through the eyes: EMDR, Ego state & somatic therapies across the dissociative continuum. Presentation at the Bainbridge Institute for Integrative Psychology, Bainbridge Island, Washington



“Looking through the eyes: EMDR, Ego state & somatic therapies across the dissociative continuum,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 19, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/21163.

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