Trust and attunement-focused EMDR with a child


This qualitative case study explores using eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy informed by attachment and neuroscience research about the importance of safety (trust) and relationship (attunement). This was chosen to enable a young child to create vital positive neural networks and process early trauma while remaining within the window of receptivity, despite issues of avoidance and control. A single case study design was used with a 5-year-old child who experienced early traumas. Observable symptoms included separation anxiety, avoidance, compromised motor skills, and compromised speech. Data were obtained from carer, child, and teacher report, notes, observations, case file, ratings of emotions, and behaviors. The data were explored for outcome data points, validity, and protocol adherence. Key findings were that EMDR used with attunement and trust-building strategies appeared to support developmental progress while facilitating pervasive posttraumatic growth. EMDR appears to offer appropriate opportunities for incorporating neuroscience and attachment research in order to facilitate trauma processing. Future research into EMDR storytelling procedures and possible causative relationships between trust-building and attunement with neurodevelopmental markers would be a possible next step.






Helen E. Rathore

Original Work Citation

Rathore, H. E. (2019). Trust and attunement-focused EMDR with a child. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 13(1), 255-268. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.12.4.255



“Trust and attunement-focused EMDR with a child,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 26, 2021,

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