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Modified or Adaptive Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Both EMDR and Modified/Adaptive EMDR potentially dangerous therapies for people with complex trauma or dissociative disorders, and should be approached with caution. Please make sure you and your professionals are educated and prepared for the issues that may arise from the use of these potentially retraumatizing therapy styles. Modified/Adaptive EMDR is considered safer, and it's important to ensure that your professional actually has been trained in this variation to EMDR.

What is it?

Modified EMDR, also known as Adaptive EMDR, is a variation of traditional EMDR therapy that has been developed specifically for individuals with complex dissociative disorders such as dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Modifications make this therapy more appropriate, such as a slower and more gradual approach, taking into account dissociative symptoms, and the need for stabilization.

Modified EMDR often begins with stabilizing techniques such as mindfulness, presence or grounding and self-soothing techniques, to help the client& feel safe and in control before starting EMDR processing. It also takes into account dissociative symptoms and headmates, working with them in a gentle and peaceful way. The therapist also works closely with the client& to create a sense of safety and trust between the therapist and the client&, and to help the client& develop a sense of self- or selves-compassion.

Modified or Adaptive EMDR may involve a different approach to the standard EMDR protocol, such as focusing on stabilization and resource development before processing traumatic memories, using a "holder" technique to help keep the person grounded and safe during the processing, or using EMDR in a more phased or gradual way. It also may include working with dissociative parts of the person's mind, or addressing the issues of attachment, self-identity, and relational trauma.

It's important to note that Modified EMDR is not widely studied and thus it's considered an experimental approach. Anecdotal evidence shows it is less likely to cause DID clients to flood (have uncontrolled flashbacks).

How is it helpful for complex trauma treatment?

Modified or Adaptive EMDR is typically used to treat individuals who have experienced complex trauma, including those with dissociative disorders. It is a form of EMDR that has been adapted to address the unique needs of individuals with dissociative disorders and other complex trauma-related disorders.

Modified or Adaptive EMDR is based on the principle that standard EMDR protocols may not be appropriate for individuals with complex trauma & dissociative disorders, as the standard protocols may not account for the dissociative symptoms that are often present in these individuals. Therefore, it is important to work with a therapist who is trained and experienced in working with dissociative disorders and who understands the unique challenges that these individuals may face in the course of treatment.

How do therapists learn more about Modified or Adaptive EMDR?

Therapists can learn about Adaptive EMDR through various training and education programs. The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) is the main organization that provides EMDR training and certification for therapists. They offer EMDR Basic Training, which is the first level of EMDR training, and also EMDRIA-approved Consultant in Training (CIT) programs, which are advanced level trainings.

EMDRIA-approved trainers and consultants in Adaptive EMDR typically have completed additional training and supervision in the use of this approach with complex trauma, dissociative disorders and/or other special populations.

It is also possible to learn Adaptive EMDR through workshops, trainings, and continuing education courses provided by other organizations and experts in the field. Additionally, some graduate programs in counseling or clinical psychology may include coursework or training in EMDR and/or Adaptive EMDR as part of their curriculum.

--created with a heavy assist from ChatGTP.

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