Associative Cards and EMDR

Santiago Jacome O. Psychologist, Therapist & Supervisor

Quito, Ecuador

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This Spanish article “Imágenes Asociativas y EMDR” and its translation into English as “Associative Cards and EMDR” have been made available by the author. You can find PDF download links for the full article in Spanish and English at the bottom of this page.

About the Author

Santiago Jacome O. is a clinical psychologist, certified EMDR Therapist and Supervisor, EMDR Institute Trainer, and psychodramatist.

Article Excerpts

This article discusses some ideas about the utility of associative OH cards series for EMDR therapists. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches.

The cornerstone of EMDR Therapy is the Adaptive Information Processing Model, formulated by Francine Shapiro. This model holds that the basis of psychological distress and mental health is in memory networks.

In our brains, neural maladaptive networks with traumatic information coexist with adaptive information networks where pleasant memories and resources are stored. When something unpleasant happens to us, this system of information processing makes disturbing memories connect with more adaptive and functional networks, so that we can face and overcome difficult experiences.

Using associative or metaphorical images in EMDR therapy

Here are some ideas for using OH cards within EMDR protocol processing.

Phase 1 – Case conceptualization and identification of the targets to process.

In the history-taking phase, case conceptualization and identification of targets to process, it may be useful to ask the patient to choose a card (randomly or not) and discuss any associations it generates, as a starting point. Specifically, in the exploration of a sequence of target memories, when we ask the patient about the problem that has been chosen to work on or the most recent experience, we can access the internal image by asking him/her to choose a card with an image that represents the worst part of the incident. After looking at the picture, ask him/her to identify negative beliefs.

Selecting an image facilitates the occurrence of the phenomenon of spontaneous association as a way to identify related past experiences and present difficulties, thus formulating the therapeutic plan. We can use the same protocol by asking the client to think about the recent experience, to focus on the image, negative belief and emotions and feelings he/she is experiencing, or by asking him/her to tell moments of his/her life when he/she experienced something similar, until he/she can evoke the oldest.

The English translation of the article as a PDF file: download the PDF.