Compassionate-focused EMDR


Compassion-focused therapy was developed to enhance physiological systems related to well-being, safeness, and connectedness in people where shame and self-criticism inhibited progress in therapy (Gilbert, 2000; Gilbert & Irons, 2005). This system links attachment experiences with emotion regulation capacities, with integrative capacities of the mind and also with the interplay between different motivational systems, which are played out in multiple self-states (Cortina & Liotti, 2010; Cozolino, 2010; Gilbert, 2009; Liotti & Gilbert, 2011). Hence, a compassionate focus could potentially prove valuable in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), particularly where shame or attachment trauma is involved or for those traumas that have impacted on the structure of the self, for example, dissociation. A structured compassion-focused EMDR (CF-EMDR) seems likely to be particularly useful for therapists wishing to pay positive attention to strengths and well-being. The primary task of the CF-EMDR therapist would therefore be to facilitate a warm and wise relationship to the problems that brought the person to EMDR. This article outlines the potential benefit of a compassionate focus in the processing phases of EMDR to address self-critical blocks, giving clinical examples in tables to illustrate the process and language.






Angela Kennedy

Original Work Citation

Kennedy, A. (2014). Compassion-focused EMDR. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 8(3), 135-146. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.8.3.135



“Compassionate-focused EMDR,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed January 20, 2022,

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