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About The Book

This book guides therapists trained in EMDR in the successful integration of the creative arts therapies to make the healing potential of EMDR safer and more accessible for patients who present with complex trauma.


Contributors from the respective fields of creative and expressive arts therapies offer their best ideas on how to combine EMDR with these therapies for maximum benefit for people from diverse backgrounds, orientations, and vulnerable populations. Chapters offer detailed case studies and images, insightful theoretical approaches, and how-to instructions to creatively enhance clinical work. Additionally, the book addresses current critical issues in the field, including the importance of an integrative and open approach when addressing cultural, racial and diversity issues, and creative interventions with clients through teletherapy.


Creative arts therapy practitioners such as art therapists, play therapists, and dance/movement therapists will find this a compelling introductory guide to EMDR.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1


A Model for Supporting Complex Trauma Treatment Integrating the Power of Creative Arts Therapies  

Elizabeth Davis, MFA, MS, LCAT, ATR-BC 


The following chapter describes a strategic approach integrating Art Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to better scaffold and prepare clients who present with complex trauma. This approach integrates the eight phases of EMDR, the conceptual framework of the three phases of complex trauma treatment and offers a visual tool for case conceptualization. The unique role of the art therapies within the phases of trauma treatment is described and illustrated using case examples showing how creative therapies support and enhance psychoeducation, skill building, emotional regulation, mentalization, resource development, the therapeutic relationship, and the work of trauma reprocessing in Phase Four of EMDR.  


Inviting the Body, Movement, and the Creative Arts into Telehealth: A Culturally Responsive Model for Online EMDR

Jennifer Marchand, MA, CCC, RCAT  

Michelli Simpson, MA, LMHC, BC-TMH, NCC, CVDS-I  


 The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a shift to online practice for many EMDR therapists in order to meet the continued and increasing need for psychological support during this global crisis. This chapter aims to provide therapists with the skills to expand Phase Two of EMDR treatment to increase safety and readiness for reprocessing online. The authors present The COME BACK Tool, a set of eight stabilization practices that integrates movement and the creative arts as a comprehensive framework for Phase Two of EMDR. The authors discuss the benefits of using body-based practices when working with complex trauma and dissociation as well as its application to intercultural work. A case example using yoga to facilitate dual-attention during trauma reprocessing (Phase Four of EMDR) over telehealth will be presented. The authors then outline the eight COME BACK Tool scripts, one practice for each letter, so that readers can easily and immediately begin offering these practices to clients, and even apply them to their own self-care routine. 


From Trauma to Recovery: Group Work with Refugees and Displaced Youth

Jocelyn Fitzgerald LMFT, ATR-BC, EMDR Consultant 


With more displaced people now than at any other time in recorded human history, significant demand exists in refugee communities for culturally sensitive services with providers able to utilize individual and community strengths. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and art therapy offer evidence-based tools for trauma recovery. This chapter describes an integrative EMDR and art therapy approach for refugee adolescents who experienced immigration and other traumas as part of community-based care in the United States and Ethiopia. An interdisciplinary approach in both countries offered group services using a culturally humble perspective. The community-based and trauma-focused interventions emphasized developmentally and culturally appropriate art materials and methods with a strength-based and collective approach. The process was assessed using qualitative and quantitative approaches. Results indicated that using EMDR could be an essential component to a multidisciplinary approach to reducing PTSD, depression, and anxiety symptoms in adolescent refugees living in the United States and East Africa.  


Gen Z in Crisis: Blending EMDR and Art Therapy for a More Robust Therapeutic Experience  

Sherri Jacobs, MS, LCMFT, MA, ATR 


EMDR and art therapy are both effective mental health therapies and when combined can offer robust interventions for adolescents and young adults. The Gen Z population (young people born in the United States between 1997-2007) has increased rates of depression, anxiety, addiction, reports of loneliness, and suicide attempts compared to previous generations of adolescents and young adults. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these worrisome trends. Updated and newer models are essential to meet their acute needs. This chapter identifies creative interventions to enhance each of the eight phases of EMDR therapy. Art prompts, scripts, and case studies for the art directives offer readers a comprehensive understanding for creative case conceptualization using EMDR with adolescents and young adults.  


Art Therapy and EMDR: Integrating Cognitive, Somatic, and Emotional Processing for Treating Trauma 

Tally Tripp, MA, MSW, ATR-BC 


The treatment of trauma-related disorders demands an approach that is integrative and flexible, blending theory and clinical practices that are neurobiologically informed, interpersonally connected and experientially engaging. Art Therapy and EMDR Therapy are two approaches that have been found to be useful for working with trauma. This chapter describes a unique, trauma-informed model incorporating elements from Art Therapy and EMDR in clinical practice. The underlying assumption for this approach is that there is a neurobiologically wired information processing system that exists across three contexts:  cognitive processes and meaning making, physiological awareness and somatic experience, and emotional regulation and interpersonal relatedness. The three elements of this model, which the author has likened to a three-legged stool, include areas affected by traumatic stress: the brain, the body, and the emotions. Thus, the goal of trauma treatment is to help clients find a manageable way to access and reprocess disturbing memories using cognition, emotion, and the body. By addressing symptoms that keep clients stuck and re-living their traumatic experiences, this innovative approach can begin to unpack and revise trauma narratives in an experiential, mindful and increasingly adaptive way.   


The Interweave of Internal Family Systems, EMDR and Art Therapy

Peggy Kolodny, MA, ATR-BC, LCPAT 

Salicia Mazero, MA, LPC, ATR, CEDS-S 


This chapter explores art therapy principles, Schwartz's Internal Family Systems therapy, and Shapiro’s Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing model, utilizing theory overview and case materials to provide foundational reasoning for the interweave of these approaches. Jungian influences in all three of these models will be briefly covered. Internal Family Systems is an integrative approach that assumes a multiplicity of the mind, viewing the mind as containing discrete ego states (“parts”), each with its own memories, traits, and roles. The goal of Internal Family Systems therapy is to build internal cooperation among managers, firefighters, and exiles to increase "Self-leadership" using eight internal resources, such as compassion and creativity to promote healing (Schwartz, 1995). The six F’s of the Internal Family Systems model will be defined, demonstrating how they integrate with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing protocol. Additionally, we have applied the six F’s in art making, developing art interventions fitting into Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing phases. We will discuss through diverse case presentations how each modality may define a session, enhancing the process. Art interventions will be discussed such as bi-lateral art to replace tapping/eye movements, creating parts in clay sculpturing, body mapping, bi-lateral scribble, and collaging. Various relevant trauma informed theories will be mentioned, such as Herman’s Three Stages of Trauma Recovery, Window of Tolerance, Neurosequential Model of Therapy, and Polyvagal Theory. A chart will summarize the overlapping of the phases of trauma treatment, EMDR, and IFS with correlating art interventions.    


Writing Therapy and EMDR 

Erin Bastow, MS, LPC, NCC


This chapter discusses various methods by which therapeutic writing can be integrated into EMDR therapy. A review of the benefits of therapeutic writing, as demonstrated in research and practice, is provided and instruction given as to where within the standard protocol specific exercises can be implemented. Particular attention is paid to how writing may benefit clients who get “stuck” with the standard protocol. This includes clients who have difficulty with visualization, history of dissociation, and/or complex trauma. Discussion is provided around the components of human development most impacted by complex trauma and a case made for how therapeutic writing can enhance EMDR’s effectiveness in addressing these components. Writing exercises include prescribed poetry, personification, letter writing, scripting dialogue, and general expressive writing.  The chapter also includes the first publication of “The Three Letters” writing intervention, which was developed to assist clients with attachment trauma, interpersonal trauma, or complicated grief. 


Three Dimensional Parts of Self Tool (3-D PoST): An Art Therapy-Based Modality in Preparation of Clients for EMDR Phase 4 Reprocessing 

Hannah Rothschild MA, RP, RCAT, CTS

Barbara Collins MA, RP, RCAT

Isabel Beland MACP, RP, CCC


The aim of our chapter is to introduce a 3-Dimensional Parts of Self Tool (3-D PoST), and how we have incorporated it into our work with traumatized clients. The 3-D PoST comprises a number of clay sculptures to aid clients to become aware and understand their internal parts of self and to project them onto the sculptures. In our work with clients, we have observed that inviting them to hold a clay sculpture and speaking to what they notice in the moment appears to facilitate their ability to ground and as well as provide internal emotional parts voice. Through the careful work of bringing awareness of these emotional parts with clients, therapists are able to introduce interventions that foster the skills of dual awareness, communication, and eventually collaboration among these internal parts of self. We believe the PoS Tool, when utilized with Kathleen Martin's Readiness Checklist for Complex Trauma, invites clients to explore the impact of dissociation on a deeper level. Martin's checklist is a helpful guide to supporting clients in the preparatory work of increasing safety and stabilization prior to the memory reprocessing phase of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. In this chapter, we will review the negative, physical and emotional impacts of complex trauma, briefly review the theory of Structural Dissociation, and describe how we use the 3-D PoST hand in hand with Martin's checklist with a case vignette. 


Dancing Mindfulness: Flowing Synchronicities with EMDR Therapy 

Jamie Marich, Ph.D


In 2012, EMDR therapist, consultant, trainer, and author Dr. Jamie Marich developed the Dancing Mindfulness approach to expressive arts therapy. Dancing Mindfulness assumes that every human activity can be a pathway for developing and further cultivating a mindfulness practice. Dance, in concert with other expressive art forms, is ideal for promoting a greater connection to embodied mindfulness and engagement with life in clients, students, and members of the community at large. In this chapter, Marich describes the journey of how EMDR therapy led her to develop a personal mindfulness practice that naturally fused with her existing expressive arts practices. Then, the natural synchrony between EMDR therapy and Dancing Mindfulness are further explored, with practical insights provided for EMDR therapists who are feeling called to integrate more dance and movement strategies into their practice. Strategies for addressing the many ways in which human beings can be avoidant of creative movement are also offered by emphasizing the importance of adaptation. Several exercises for EMDR therapists are also provided, and ideas are shared for how EMDR therapists can develop a personal Dancing Mindfulness practice to support their own healing and wellness.  


Future Self: Developing a Felt-Sense for the Future as a Resource in EMDR Preparation 

Annie Monaco, LCSW, RPT 


Future Self is a resource development intervention utilized in phase one and two of EMDR, and is designed to provide a creative format for teens/adults to generate hope, a vision and reference of their future. The intervention includes several different creative arts and somatic opportunities for the client to have a felt sense of their future self. This format allows clients to plan their future and identify step by step tasks to reach their goals and dreams.  


Work in Process: Expressive Arts Therapy Solutions for EMDR Therapists 

Irene Rodriguez, MS, LMHC, REAT, CAP, CCTP 

Jamie Marich, Ph.D., LPCC-S, LICDC-CS, REAT, RYT-500 


Expressive arts therapy is a multi-modal approach where all available expressive forms, including yet not limited to dance/movement, visual arts, writing, drama, and music are utilized to help clients be in process and facilitate the processing of experience. The intermodal quality of expressive arts empowers therapists and clients alike to explore possibilities for fusion that can prove useful in working through therapeutic blocks. Indigenous in its origins, expressive arts therapy offers resources and applications for EMDR therapists seeking to work with complex trauma and dissociation in a more embodied way. This chapter, written by two registered expressive arts therapists who are also EMDR trainers committed to the standard protocol, presents an overview of expressive arts therapy as an approach to psychotherapy and education, then explores the natural integration between expressive arts therapy and EMDR therapy. In both forms, there is a common emphasis on the power of process in the healing journey. Four case studies are presented, integrated with a series of practical skills that EMDR therapists can implement, even without specialized training in expressive arts therapy. Culturally adaptive possibilities are also presented, especially with Spanish-speaking populations. In trauma-focused care, adaptations and modifications are essential, and blending expressive arts practice into the already powerful modality that is EMDR therapy broadens therapists’ capacity to make such adaptation.  

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