Attachment-Focused EMDR Integrates the latest in attachment theory and research into the use of EMDR. An attachment is a reciprocal, enduring, emotional and physical affiliation between a child and a caregiver. It is the base from which children explore their physical and social environments and form their concepts of self, others and the world.* Both emotions and cognitions are strongly associated with attachment. As infants and children, we depend on our attachment figure to regulate our emotions. For example, When an infant feels distress, being close to its caretaker becomes the means to reducing that stress. Attachment determines how and what we think about ourselves and the world. For example, Am I the kind of person people will respond to? Are others likely to respond to my needs? Is the world a safe place? Our earliest relationships determine all others.
*James, B. (1994) Handbook for Treatment of Attachment-Trauma Problems in Children, The Free Press, N.Y.
A great deal has been written about trauma and neglect and the damage they do to the developing brain and attachment. Utilizing the work of Laurel Parnell, leader and innovator in the field of eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), Attachment-Focused EMDR connects the science of early attachment relationships and the practice of healing within an EMDR framework to heal clients with relational trauma and attachment deficits.
Our early relationships shape the way the mind and brain develop from our young years into our adult lives. Our relationships with caregivers stimulate neural pathways in our brain that stay throughout our lives, shaping our thoughts, emotions, memories, and behaviors. If we are lucky and have secure attachment experiences in which we feel seen, safe, soothed, and secure (the “four S’s of attachment” that serve as the foundation for a healthy mind) then these relational experiences organize the brain in a secure manner. When attachment is not secure the brain is wired for the chaotic environment in which it is developing.
EMDR is a powerful method for initiating integration an adaptive processing of memories, emotions, self-beliefs and somatic experiences, for individuals who have experienced non-secure attachment and developmental trauma.