EMDR and health: EMDR brief treatment in medical conditions with a high emotional charge: A possible challenge


Stress and high emotional situations such as complex traumas have a negative influence on the psycho – physiologic adaptive process to illness. If these experiences are not elaborated, they could be stored as dysfunctional memories causing psychophysical vulnerability. EMDR treatment requires a proper detection and reprocessing of stressing memories in present and past events and in future templates, handling worries and fears.

Treatment protocol for serious medical diseases will be presented, focusing in the domains of Multiple Sclerosis and Oncology. Starting from the person and his system (biopsychosocial model), the main interest will be placed on case conceptualization and preparation of the project with EMDR, and then the identification of targets for further processing. From here, through the exposure of specific cases treated, we will work on bodily symptoms (the feeling perceived) through floatback to promote the connection of memories. The presentation of the research project and the first data obtained will follow.

The design helps the person to relate themselves to the traumatic material as something that they can see, represent, touch, by sharing and by exploring their resonances with the therapist; the design provides an emotional containment that allows the processing of intense emotions, reduces significantly the risk of dissociations, and allows the recovery of creative resources.

The fundamental aim of the model is to facilitate the building of a constructive relationship with themselves and with the “sick body”, by elaborating the traumatic events that have led to a dysfunctional self-image and explored, strengthened their resources with the aim of building the “navigation tools” and an effective “first-aid kit” for times of crisis. It will be presented the model of the intervention and the strategies proposed and used, through the presentation of clinical cases.

The analysis of the success factors and of the difficulties encountered will allow us to define a possible direction for future brief interventions with patients affected by complex organic diseases.

Learning objectives:
To learn EMDR protocols adapted to deal with serious medical illnesses such as Cancer and Multiple Sclerosis; To analyse the therapeutic process by narrative and graphic material; and To learn specific features to deal with fears of loss and impairment






Luca Ostacoli
Gabriella Bertino
Elisa Faretta

Original Work Citation

Ostacoli, L., Bertino, G., & Faretta, E. (2013, June). EMDR and health: EMDR brief treatment in medical conditions with a high emotional charge: A possible challenge. Presentation at the 14th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Geneva, Switzerland



“EMDR and health: EMDR brief treatment in medical conditions with a high emotional charge: A possible challenge,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 12, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/22027.

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