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Treating Preverbal Trauma with EMDR

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Debra Wesselmann

on 27 September 2013

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Transcript of Treating Preverbal Trauma with EMDR

Anna: EMDR & Family Therapy Integrative Team Treatment
Implicit Memory Operates Unconsciously...
Anna's Traumas
Early abandonment & 7 mos. in orphanage care created ongoing fear & sense of life/death threat with no attachment figure to run to for comfort.
Unless it is made conscious through a bridging to explicit memory that narrates or makes sense of the remembered emotion, sensation, etc.
Reaches into the limbic brain.
Helps regulate the brainstem.
Processes emotionally & somatically.
We don't have to have pictures & words - we don't have to KNOW everything.
How Do You Reach Preverbal, Non-conscious Memories?
Images, emotions, or body sensations associated with the child's timeline or early story.
Emotions, sesations related to current triggers.
Anna's Triggers
Babies, children, dogs
Any public places
Mom saying no or giving any directions
Teacher giving directions
Anna's Symptoms
Maniacal laugh
Obsession with Lenny
Touching body parts
Anger & reactivity
Blaming others
Refusal to cooperate
Aggressive meltdowns
Panic attacks
IQ 68
Autistic features
Anna's NCs
Baby Anna deserves nothing.
No one is safe.
Crying babies are arguing with me.
Other children want to argue with me.
It's not safe to trust & rely on my mother or teachers.
I must be in control.
I must be ready to fight.
Being calm doesn't help.
Crying doesn't help.

Family Therapy:
Coached Anna & Mom in Mindfulness:
Belly breath
Cooked noodle
High alert/low alert
Helped Anna & Mom Recognize the Smaller Child Within
Explained "the baby inside" with the Russian dolls.
Anna identified "the orphanagy feeling."
Developed Anna's Story
Therapeutic story (Joan Lovett Outline)
major events
emotions (the baby felt...)
NCs (the baby believed....)
PCs (the truth was...)
Coached Anna in Skills
Identifying triggers, NCs, PCs
Talking to the brain
Jobs of moms
Friendship skills
Coaching with Stef's baby
Red box, blue box
Early EMDR
Attachment Resource Development (ARD)
Magical Cord of Love
Safe Place for Baby Anna
Taking care of Baby Anna
"Baby Anna deserves love & attention."
"I can believe that others are safe."
Self-Regulation Development & Installation (S-RDI)
Bilateral stimulation to reinforce experiences of self-regulation with coaching from EMDR therapist. ("Feelings come & feelings go.")
Beginning EMDR on Current Triggers
Arguing with mom...
NC: Baby Anna is in charge.
PC: The more in charge my mom is, the happier I am.

Babies crying at church...
NC: The babies are arguing with me.
PC: the babies are just crying for what they need.
Started August 12th, 2011:
1 hour family therapy & 1 hour EMDR therapy weekly.

EMDR with Preverbal Trauma
Work with Plastic Guinea Pig Lenny--Jan. 2012
When he is with grandma he feels lonely like at the orphanage.
"I like to scare Lenny. I am mean to Lenny."
Taught Lenny to be calm. ARD and S-RDI with Lenny.
"Safe Place" for Lenny.
"Feelings Come & Feelings Go" with Lenny.
Talking to Lenny & caring for Lenny.
When Lenny's licking was targeted, there was a gradual decrease in Anna's touching of body parnts.
EMDR with Therapeutic Story
Anna claims she remembers the orphanage. Anna said, "I was so miserable in the orphanage, I felt left out, hated. I didn't like that pain."
PC "I'm learning now to handle my big feelings, I was little then and didn't know."
NC: "I'm scared not to be scared."
PC: "I can let my mom calm me & talk to the baby."

More NCs: "I always feel lonesome."
"I keep my crying on the inside & it comes out as mad. I don't like the emotional pain."
"The babies are arguing. I don't want to argue."
Immaculate Coat-
February 2012
Anna Learns to Feel Her Feelings
Family therapist taught facts about babies.
In EMDR therapy, Anna said, "Mom will argue with me if I cry."
Used "shy blanket." (Gomez) Testing Mom's response to her emotional pain.
3-26-12 Anna cried for the first time.
Addressing Preverbal Trauma Through Triggers and Feelings About Her past
Baby in the Tummy
Grief & loss about "the lady".
Sadness about leaving her tummy.
"I liked the pumping
heart better than
the orphanage."
"I felt better in the lady's tummy. The baby is mad about this."
NC: "My tummy mom looked mad when she left me."
PC: "My tummy mom was sad when she had to leave me." (Did another version of therapuetic story on this piece.)
Current/Recent Triggers
Recent meltdowns--NC: I'm the problem.
PC: I'm learning how to handle my big feelings. I was little then & didn't know.
Future template--Role-played handling the triggers.
Grief About Independence
"When you (mom) make me be independent, I feel separation."
Nervous is painful. Worked on "feelings come & feelings go." (S-RDI)
"So I make the feeling worse when I don't feel it? Oh, I didn't know!"
Future template: Feeling the feeling of nervous.
Addressing Preverbal Trauma Through More Current Triggers
Social Skills
Baby Anna had to demand attention. PC: "Teenage and baby Anna don't have to do that anymore!"
Family therapist taught friendship skills: EMDR therapist reinforced "the bonfire Anna."
Handling Being at School
Lunchroom & classroom: "It gives me the orphanagy feeling."
NC: Baby Anna isn't safe.
PC: Baby Anna is safe.
More reinforcement of "Magical Cord of Love" and "Brain Cord."
Work continues on social/emotional skills.
Treating Preverbal Trauma with EMDR
Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP
Stefanie Armstrong, MS, LIMHP
Cathy Schweitzer, MS, LIMHP Ann Potter, PhD

In Summary...
We addressed Anna's preverbal trauma through:
Therapeutic story
Baby pictures
Pictures in her mind
Talking to baby inside
Work with Lenny
Sensations (Itchy)
Current triggers: babies, dogs, public places "orphanagy feeling"
Full transcript