Treating the whole child - Integrating child psychotherapies into the AIP/EMDR model


This workshop will focus on widening and deepening our treatment of children by integrating into the AIP model and the EMDR protocol, developmental knowledge and effective techniques to deal with the unique challenges presented by children of various ages.

The EMDR therapist often meets a child with behaviors, which are related either to early critical life events or to the child's current developmental stage. There may be an apparent lack of motivation, oppositional behavior, or direct fear of meeting painful material. We understand these behaviors as automatic activation of the developmental defenses of dissociation or avoidance. These provide challenges which often leave the therapist feeling helpless to continue with the EMDR work.

A developmental approach, woven into the AIP Model, reveals these behaviors as survival mechanisms which signal to the therapist that this child needs focused work in the preparatory stage of the EMDR Protocol. He must be helped to soften these defenses and widen his "window of emotional tolerance" so that he can move on to the processing of traumatic material.

In this workshop we hope to demonstrate how integration of current neurodevelopment knowledge into the AIP model can aid in crafting interventions which may facilitate this process. We will demonstrate how to help the child enhance his capacity to interact therapeutically and tolerate strong feelings, such as shame, guilt, and emotional pain. A major focus will relate to interventions in the dyadic caregiver-child attachment system to re enforce the perception of safety.

Participants will experience concrete case examples that deal with these problems through watching videos and looking at child drawings. They will learn approaches that encourage playfulness in order to activate curiosity and lower anxiety, techniques to help the child meet and tolerate his inner world, and dyadic interventions which utilize the parents' presence to anchor safety and repair attachment lacunae.






Barbara Wizansky
Esther Bar Sadeh

Original Work Citation

Wizansky, B., & Sadeh, E. B. (2016, June). Treating the whole child - Integrating child psychotherapies into the AIP/EMDR model. Preconference presentation at the at the 17th EMDR Europe Association Conference, The Hague



“Treating the whole child - Integrating child psychotherapies into the AIP/EMDR model,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed June 14, 2021,

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