The treatment of some chronically traumatized and dissociative children can be complicated when they refuse to talk about trauma or say they forgot about it. They have build walls around their emotions and inner world and we are tempted to let sleeping dogs lie. But underneath this apparently well functioning outside, the child is terrified, constantly alert, and lonely. This child cannot attach and this lack of safe attachment is devastating for future development.
These children do not want to start EMDR, they don’t have any memories because they dissociated them or therapists and the parents are afraid to destabilize the child. In this presentation I will demonstrate the Sleeping Dogs treatment method for those children. By six ‘test’ (safety, daily life, attachment, emotion regulation, cognitive shift and nutshell) cases are analyzed to find out what is needed to make EMDR possible. A treatment plan is made to structure the interventions in the stabilization phase followed by EMDR in the trauma processing phase. The necessary adjustments in the EMDR protocol are discussed. In the integration phase treatment focuses on attachment and emotion regulation again.
The structure of this method, the focus on processing traumatic memories, the work that is done with and by the daily carers and the collaboration with Child Protection makes this a relative short and unique treatment method. The goal is to start EMDR as soon as possible and avoid unnecessary delay. I will present some cases to illustrate this process and the preliminary research data.
Arianne Struik got her degree in developmental psychology in 1995 at the University in Utrecht. She became a family therapist in 2003 and an EMDR practitioner and consultant with EMDR Europe in 2008. She developed a treatment method described in the book Treating Chronically Traumatized Children: Don’t let sleeping dogs lie! published by Routledge (Struik, 2014). She is a member of the Child and Adolescent Committee of the ESTD and has been giving workshops and presentations internationally on the treatment of traumatized children (2013: Australia, Copenhagen, Belgium etc) and at EMDR (2010; 2011;2012) and ESTD conferences (2010;2012;2014).