Adapting EMDR for children who exhibit reactive attachment disorder


Why are adaptations necessary for EMDR with Children with RAD behaviors? Children or adults with a history of poor attachments are left with significant emotional and social deficits. These deficits negatively impact the capacity for the patient to utilize therapy of any kind, including EMDR. These deficits may include any or all of the following: 1. The child has little capacity for recognizing his own internal state. He has little awareness of his own emotions, body sensations, or thoughts, and he has difficulty putting words to his internal state. 2. The child is easily emotionally dysregulated. 3. The child automatically avoids thoughts or memories that trigger strong emotions, and he automatically copes with strong emotions by dissociating or acting out. 4. The child has very little trust for adults, especially adults he considers authority figures. Because of this, he has very little capacity to receive comfort or reassurance, and he has difficulty accepting direction. 5. The child lacks appropriate, rational, adaptive information related to his traumatic experiences, even at a cognitive level. [Excerpt]






Debra Wesselmann

Original Work Citation



“Adapting EMDR for children who exhibit reactive attachment disorder,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 30, 2021,

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