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EMDR in the Treatment of Adults Abused as Children

by Dr. Laurel Parnell

Treatment of abuse survivors is extremely challenging, whatever the modality. Clients may experience intense emotional abreactions during therapy, report horrifying memories, and become stuck processing their experiences.

This book shows therapists how to integrate EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) into the treatment so that adults who have been abused as children clear their trauma more rapidly, escape falling into the victim mentality, and proceed to lead full, productive lives. For therapists already familiar with EMDR, it covers the primary treatment issues and symptomatology of these clients and specific alterations of the standard EMDR protocol. For therapists experienced with treating abuse survivors, it introduces a safe and effective way to process trauma.

Emphasizing the practical, Laurel Parnell not only teaches many techniques to help the therapist when an impasse is reached, but also provides a selection of treatment choices. She demonstrates how EMDR can be used in the beginning phase of therapy for ego strengthening and the development and installation of resources. This prepares clients for trauma processing in the middle phase. Finally, in the end phase, clients integrate their experiences and often feel an awakening of their creativity and spirituality. Cases are used throughout to provide therapists with a deeper, more grounded understanding of different kinds of abuse cases and their treatment.

Readers will find that Laurel Parnell is an empathic, sensitive, and knowledgeable guide to the difficult terrain of working with adults abused as children using EMDR.

This book is a winner! Patiently, empathically, and clearly, Laurel Parnell brings the human relationship of psychotherapy into the treatment of these special patients. The book is both informative and affirming. While articulating what seasoned EMDR therapists have done for years, the author brings together many diverse pieces, creating a masterful mosaic.

Curtis C. Rouanzoin, Ph.D.
Past President, EMDRIA
Chairperson, Training and Standards Committee of EMDRIA

Dr. Parnell has effectively drawn together a wide range of suggestions and case examples to assist clinicians in using EMDR with difficult and complex cases of adult survivors of childhood abuse. An excellent complement to the standard EMDR textbook and training for those working with this important population.

Francine Shapiro, Ph.D.
Senior Research Fellow, Mental Research Institute
Executive Director, EMDR Institute