With an EMDR Canada membership, therapists also become EMDRIA members and have access to the Go With That Magazine. This magazine’s articles are written by leading EMDR clinicians, providing succinct, clinically informative EMDR guidance for working with a wide range of client concerns. Go With That stands as a renowned flagship publication, garnering awards for its excellence. Its quarterly releases delve into various subjects pertinent to mental health professionals devoted to EMDR therapy, encompassing topics such as addiction, anxiety, personality disorders, PTSD, and more. Authored by practicing EMDR therapists, trainers, and consultants, the content is tailored specifically for engaged EMDR therapist members. Abundant in research, the publication offers invaluable practical guidance and insights to its readers.
To encourage my EMDR colleagues to become members of EMDR Canada and to access this valuable resource, I am committing myself to introducing articles that have inspired me. Ana Gomez’s article “Dissociation in Children: A Multimodal Approach to EMDR Therapy” in the Dec 2021 issue of Go With That, was an exceptional example of insightful content.
This article provides a comprehensive overview of dissociation within the context of childhood trauma and provides innovative strategies for integrating EMDR therapy.
Gomez’s accessible and theoretically strong article offers a skillful summary of how to assess and safely provide EMDR to children with dissociative disorders. She sites state-of-the-art assessment tools and treatment methods and urges EMDR clinicians to become aware of the signs of childhood dissociation and receive additional training to meet these vulnerable children’s needs.
I’ve attended and would highly recommend child dissociation trainings with Ana Gomez, ISSTD trainings with Fran Waters, and Joyanna Silberg and Sandra Baita and training with Deborah Wesselmann.
I agree with Gomez’s assertion that childhood dissociation is underrecognized. Like many seasoned child trauma therapists, I remember several child clients with extreme behavioral challenges whose dissociation we failed to recognize. I often think of these children and hope that they have sought trauma therapy as adults to reclaim their lives. I moved beyond regret for not knowing then what I know now and have become deeply grateful to have received the wisdom and generosity of my clinical mentors. It truly is an exciting time to be a trauma therapist, trainer, and a consultant, and to be privileged to guide and support new play and EMDR therapists.
Gomez emphasizes all levels of safety throughout her comprehensive overview of the 8-phase EMDR model with children with dissociative disorders and gives a highly accessible description of dissociation’s neurobiological origins. She introduces playful ways to help children resolve trauma and dissociation, respecting how children generally do not have language to express their complex internal experiences. I encourage child therapists interested in learning play therapy as a foundational treatment method to attend the Canadian Play Therapy Associations Foundational training.
I found it heart-warming that Gomez began this article by urging us as clinicians to move beyond theoretic learning to also embark on a personal journey of knowing ourselves. She views self-awareness as creating space to allow us to mentalize the child’s internal experience and become their external source of emotional regulation. I cannot agree more with Gomez’s belief that we need to embrace our own humanity as therapists so that we can offer our client compassion, kindness and respect.
When I first learned EMDR, I felt an urgency to become as skillful as my trainers. I wanted to do justice to Shapiro’s brilliant trauma method and give my clients what I now knew was possible. As I witnessed the eloquence and ease of my EMDR trainers, Kathy Karn and Brynah Schneider, during practicum demonstrations, I felt like an absolute beginner and only hoped that my clients could somehow benefit from my early EMDR practice.
Fortunately, my very patient first EMDR clients resolved trauma, despite my missteps and I eventually learned to be patient with myself during my learning process. I’ve realized that letting go of my frustration for not yet being where I clinically want to be is essential to my remaining fully present with my clients and to maintaining a safe, and collaborative therapeutic relationship.
Mind you, when I attend adult dissociation training programs with Delores Mosquera, I still need to remind myself of this lesson. I view myself as a clumsy clinician as I witness Mosquera’s incredibly skillful and elegant way of asking client’s questions, facilitating internal awareness of dissociative parts, overcoming dissociative phobias and resolving internal conflicts. When my clinical consultant Kathy Steele wisely guides my case conceptualizations, I often think, “Now why didn’t I see that!” And the answer often is – because I am not there yet, but I’m willing to learn.
I do hope that any EMDR clinicians reading this blog are patient and compassionate with themselves when their mentors point out missteps and inspire them to clinically grow. I encourage them to remember that by completing an EMDRIA-approved Basic Training Program, they have already reached a higher standard of clinical excellence. And while I always encourage clinicians to never stop learning new, innovative ways of meeting their clients’ therapeutic needs, it is important to always hold onto the well-accepted truth that an attuned, safe, and respectful therapeutic relationship is the essential foundation for healing.