Treating borderline personality disorder with EMDR


Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) presents great challenges for clinicians. Patients with this diagnosis are known for being impulsive, reactive and highly sensitive. They often present with high-risk behaviors, suicidal ideation and a history of or risk of suicide attempts. Countertransference issues need to be considered in the management of this population. Affect phobias in both patients and therapist can be crucial in selecting and applying treatment strategies EMDR therapy with BPD. This workshop offers an integration of AIP, attachment-related states of mind, and the theory of structural dissociation of the personality (TSDP) to the case conceptualization of BPD. It will also highlight the importance of learning to recognize the role of defenses related to the various phobias in TSDP and will describe how to address these with EMDR. Another significant aspect is the potential role of affect phobia in the therapist. Borderline patients can generate strong countertransference issues in clinicians, and EMDR can mobilize strong affect in patients. Therefore, it is important for clinicians to be alert to and to be able to recognize defensive responses to affect phobias both in themselves and in their BPD patients. Sometimes it can be difficult for EMDR trained clinicians to establish the connecting thread between the patient's symptoms (including the frequent difficulties they present in the therapeutic relationship) and the early environments in which they grew up, characterized by a high rate of attachment disruptions and severe traumatic events. Through videos we will demonstrate how to go from current symptoms to core targets for EMDR reprocessing and when instead to address defenses.






Dolores Mosquera

Original Work Citation

Mosquera, D. (2014, January). Treating borderline personality disorder with EMDR. EMDR and personality disorders (Matthew Woo, Chair). Presentation at the 2nd EMDR Asia International Conference, Manila, The Philippines



“Treating borderline personality disorder with EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed March 2, 2021,

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