Personalizing EMDR approach on individual neurobiological profile


After many early cautions about the potential dangers of using EMDR Therapy with individuals suffering from complex PTSD, many clinicians have limited its use to the treatment of traumatic memories in high functioning patients. This is generally done only after a long preparation phase that often depends on other treatment modalities. From this conceptualization, the use of EMDR is erroneously limited, depriving many severely traumatized survivors of the benefits of EMDR Therapy.
 Every artist knows the importance of tuning his/her musical instrument to play the best music. Research in “affective neuroscience” outlines the close connection between Brain and Heart, that is between Central and Autonomic Nervous System in affective processing and in relational engagement. Porges’ Polivagal Theory is widely used as a functional model of autonomic arousal but its efficacy can be improved integrating it with new models of Central Nervous System processing, offering a great opportunity to personalize both treatment planning and real time management. Richard Davidson, an international renowned neuroscientist, identified six neurobiologically grounded "Emotional Styles", reflecting activity levels in specific and identifiable brain circuits. Each dimension is a continuum according to the degree of activation and can be assessed both clinically and through self-reports. Neurobiological Emotional Styles cut across diagnostic categories of mental disorders and Davidson’s studies show the possibility to modulate the brain circuit’s functioning through specific psychological practices. Over the last years, specific EMDR approaches were developed to customize treatments according to individual Central and Autonomic Nervous System Profile. We hope this work will help people to play their own music in life.






Luca Ostacoli
Sara Carletto

Original Work Citation

Ostacoli, L., & Carletto, S. (2017, June). Personalizing EMDR approach on individual neurobiological profile. Presentation (Michael Hase, Chair) at the 18th EMDR Europe Association Conference, Barcelona, Spain



“Personalizing EMDR approach on individual neurobiological profile,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed January 22, 2021,

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