This case study describes how EMDR therapy helped Sarah, a young woman with a history of childhood abuse, heal her relationship trauma after a difficult break up.
Sarah is a 35-year-old woman who sought therapy after a recent breakup with her partner of four years. In addition to the trauma from her recent breakup, Sarah had experienced several traumatic events in her past that had contributed to her current struggles.
Sarah grew up in a home where she experienced physical and emotional abuse from her parents. She was also bullied in school for her appearance and struggled to form friendships. These experiences left her with deep feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-worth.
As a result of her early experiences, Sarah had difficulty forming healthy attachments and trusting others. She often found herself in relationships with partners who were emotionally unavailable or abusive. Despite her best efforts, Sarah struggled to maintain healthy relationships and often found herself feeling alone and isolated.
During the initial assessment, Sarah reported feeling depressed and anxious, with intrusive thoughts and flashbacks related to her past traumatic experiences. She also reported difficulty sleeping and problems with concentration. Sarah was diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD).
Sarah’s therapy began with establishing a safe and trusting therapeutic relationship with her therapist. After several sessions of preparation and building resources, Sarah began EMDR treatment.
The focus of her therapy was to process the traumatic memories related to her childhood abuse, bullying, and attachment trauma. Through EMDR, Sarah was able to reprocess these traumatic memories and the negative beliefs she had developed about herself as a result.
During the EMDR sessions, Sarah was asked to focus on a specific traumatic memory while simultaneously tracking the therapist’s finger movements with her eyes. This bilateral stimulation helped her to access the traumatic memory while also facilitating the processing of the experience.
After several sessions of EMDR, Sarah reported a significant reduction in her symptoms of depression and anxiety. She was able to reframe her negative self-beliefs and develop a more positive sense of self-worth, and ultimately use EMDR to heal her relationship trauma.
Sarah also reported feeling more confident in her ability to form healthy relationships. She was able to identify patterns in her past relationships and learned to set boundaries to protect herself from further harm.
EMDR can be an effective treatment for clients who have experienced childhood abuse, bullying, and attachment trauma. Through the reprocessing of traumatic memories and negative self-beliefs, clients can experience relief from their symptoms and develop more positive and accurate self-beliefs. As with any treatment, the therapeutic relationship and individualized treatment plan are crucial for success.