Anorexia nervosa and EMDR: A clinical case


Numerous studies have identified links between psychopathology and a history of traumatic life events and dysfunctional attachment relationships. Hence, given the possible traumatic origins of this pathology, it may be useful to provide a trauma-focused intervention such as the eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. This article illustrates a clinical case by describing the positive results of the EMDR therapy in the recovery of unremitting anorexia nervosa in a 17-year-old inpatient. She had previously been hospitalized on 4 occasions in the previous 4 years and received both psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral therapy. At pretreatment, the client weighed (28 kg, 62 lb) and had a body mass index of 14. She was designated with a dismissing attachment style on the Adult Attachment Interview. EMDR therapy was provided for 6 months in hospital, in twice weekly 50-minute sessions and consisted of standard procedures primarily focusing on her relational traumas, interspersed with psychoeducational talk therapy sessions, and integrated with ego state therapy. At the end of treatment, the client weighed (55 kg, 121 lb) and had a body mass index of 21.5. She no longer met diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, and her attachment style had changed to an earned free-autonomous state of mind. She reported an increase in self-confidence and in her ability to manage various social challenges. Results were maintained at 12 and 24 months follow-up. The treatment implications of this case study are discussed.






Maria Zaccagnino
Martina Cussino
Chiara Callerame
Cristina Civilotti 
Isabel Fernandez

Original Work Citation

Zaccagnino, M., Cussini, M., Callerame, C., Civilotti, C., & Fernandez, I. (2017). Anorexia nervosa and EMDR: A clinical case. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 11(1), 43-53. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.11.1.43



“Anorexia nervosa and EMDR: A clinical case,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 24, 2021,

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