Integrated approaches in psychotherapy:  Use of the therapeutic relationship as trauma revealing tool


The theme of the relational processes that take place within the therapeutic process is more than ever very relevant and actual, and therefore the attention that the scientific community is reserving to it. The therapeutic relationship is a vehicle to highlight (identify) the relational problems connected to the traumatic experiences of affective development and related, therefore, to the pathological interpersonal patterns deriving from the patient's traumatic attachment styles. The aim of the present work is to connect the therapeutic approach of the Control Mastery Theory (CMT), which is highly focused on the relational process, and the technique of desensitization and reprocessing through ocular movements (EMDR). Nowadays more than ever the notion of "Trauma" occupies a central place both in clinical research in psychotherapy and in the investigation of its related neurophysiologists. The Control Mastery Theory, born in the 70s thanks to the work of Joseph Weiss and Harold Sampson, at the San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group, moves its basic assumptions from the idea that psychopathology in general can be considered as the maladaptive response of a subject in front of traumatic experiences of a relational and affective nature, which have led to the formation of "negative pathogenic beliefs" that the person refers to himself.These beliefs guide the patient's subconscious existential path, placing him at risk of new retraumatization in the relational field, thus generating a dramatic vicious circle. Within this theoretical model, the authors of the present communication hypothesize that the use of the EMDR technique aimed at solving those traumatic aspects in the patient's emotional experience, which originated the pathogenic beliefs, can electively allow their re-elaboration within a safe relational therapeutic setting.What is essential, seems to be the good quality relationship of the container within which the exploration of the traumatic contents of the patient can take place. As Mark Dworkin points out in his text, and how Francine Shapiro in particular emphasizes "It is the patient's brain to proceed towards healing, while the therapist provides the structure and the container within which this can take place" First a brief description of the CMT model will be provided, then the possibility of its integration with the EMDR approach and finally an illustrative clinical example.






Ludovica Bedeschi

Original Work Citation

Bedeschi, L. (2018, June). Integrated approaches in psychotherapy:  Use of the therapeutic relationship as trauma revealing tool. In EMDR Association with other psychotherapies. Presentation at the 19th EMDR Europe Conference, Strasbourg, France



“Integrated approaches in psychotherapy:  Use of the therapeutic relationship as trauma revealing tool,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed December 3, 2020,

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