Trauma-Attachment Tangle

Modifying EMDR to Help Children Resolve Trauma and Develop Loving Relationships

By Joan Lovett

© 2015 – Routledge

236 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9781138789968
pub: 2014-12-10
US Dollars$49.95
Hardback: 9781138789944
pub: 2014-12-16
US Dollars$162.95

Look Inside e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

Trauma-Attachment Tangle offers informative and inspiring clinical stories of children who have complex trauma and attachment issues from experiences such as adoption, hospitalization, or death of a parent. Some of these children display puzzling or extreme symptoms like prolonged tantrums, self-hatred, attacking their parents or being fearful of common things like lights, solid foods or clothing. Dr. Lovett presents strategies for unraveling the traumatic origins of children’s symptoms and gives a variety of tools for treating complex trauma and for promoting attunement and attachment.


"This lovely, sensitive account of how young children with seemingly intractable behavioral problems can find peace and a place in the world is a treasure for parents and clinicians alike. Dr Lovett uses case vignettes not only to describe what she does but also to explain her thought processes and the science behind her interventions. Clinicians interested in her approach will find the latter part of the book especially helpful, with detailed instructions on how they can incorporate into their own practice the techniques Dr. Lovett uses so adroitly. Parents will treasure her message of hope and find many valuable gems they can enhance their daily efforts to express their love and caring for even the most difficult children." -- Glen R. Elliott, PhD, MD, Chief Psychiatrist, Children's Health Council; Clinical Professor (Affiliated) in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford School of Medicine

"This is a fascinating book on the integration of play therapy, narratives and EMDR to heal children who have suffered complex traumatization very early in their development. It focuses on rebuilding trust, resolving trauma, and repairing attachment. Lovett works from an empathic and sensitive understanding of the child’s world and the child perspective. Rich in wonderful clinical case material, this gifted therapist gives detailed insights into her thinking and offers a variety of very helpful creative clinical tools and strategies and how to use these to guide parents and children. It is a must-read for all clinicians working in this complex field." -- Joanne Morris-Smith C.Psychol, AFBPsS, EMDR Europe Accredited Child & Adolescent Trainer; Co-author of EMDR for the Next Generation: Healing Children & Families

"Joan Lovett's The Family-Attachment Tangle is an invaluable for book for anyone working with young children and their parents. Her portrayal of children struggling with the burden of traumatic experiences illuminates how early disruptions to a child's sense of safety can make daily life almost unbearably difficult for the child and his parents. The book emphasizes strategies for treatment of PTSD including EMDR, but Dr. Lovett's approach can be adapted for any child who has had an interruption to developing a sense of safety and security during the early months and years of life." – Meg Zweiback, RN,CPNP,MPH, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Family Consultant

"Readers of The Trauma-Attachment Tangle have a unique opportunity to virtually join Dr. Joan Lovett in her office--to follow her thought processes and witness her artistry as she unravels and intervenes with the perplexing problems of complicated child cases. The book includes creative games and strategies for enhancing parent-child relationships and guidelines for writing narratives that provide healing and hope. It’s an inspirational read for both clinicians and parents who have struggled with the challenges presented by severely traumatized children." --Debra Wesselmann, MS, LIMHP, Co-founder of The Attachment and Trauma Center of Nebraska; Co-author of Integrative Team Treatment for Attachment Trauma in Children: Family Therapy and EMDR

"Dr. Joan Lovett's latest book is an engrossing and extremely useful book for both developmental pediatricians, therapists, and general pediatricians who are at the front gate. As a general pediatrician who treats patients with complex medical problems, adopted families, and children with other attachment-attunement issues, this book provides detailed accounts of childrens' behaviors, parents' responses, and Dr. Lovett's approach to improving their physical and psychological well-being. She also presents solid evidence-based information on EMDR to support her treatment of these extremely difficult to treat children. Trauma-Attachment Tangle will help us to be better clinicians for our patients who have suffered trauma and attachment issues." --Elizabeth Salsburg, MD, FAAP Kiwi Pediatrics Medical Group, Chairperson of Department of Pediatrics Alta Bates Summit Medical Center

"Dr. Joan Lovett has written a remarkable book that will appeal to parents, teachers, mental health clinicians, day care workers, doctors, nurses, and anyone else who interact with children. Readers will be guided to understand children’s behaviors and how to resolve inappropriate behavior though heartwarming and comprehensive case stories that describe an array of challenges, including attachment issues, early medical traumas and hospitalization, vicarious traumatization, loss of a parent, extreme neglect, and developmental delays. With sensitivity and skillful artistry, Dr Lovett models how to help children feel safe and form positive and loving relationships through the use of EMDR therapy, engaging games, healing narratives, and other practical, easily implemented tools." --Robbie Dunton, MS, MA, EMDR Institute Coordinator

"The book Trauma-Attachment Tangle […] can be of great comfort and help to these parents and also to clincians and play therapists who are attempting to ease the lives of very young children with extreme symptoms due to complex early ruptures in attachment and terrified/aggressive responses to early losses and traumas. […] This book offers a ray of hope for loving adoptive or biological parents struggling with mystifying and severely worriesome behaviors and interactions when a child has suffered early trauma." --Alice Sterilng Honig, PsycCRITIQUES

"The Trauma-Atachment Tangle […] is a delightful and enlightening read. Do not expect the dry re-counting of symptoms, case histories, and treatment methods that are sometimes foudn in clincial books. Lovett's sparkling narrative style quickly draws the reader into the mystery surrounding each puzzling case study. It is a joy to follow Dr. Lovett's thought processes as she unravels the tangle and traces each child's current behaviors to earlier frightening events. […] [The] jargon-free style of writing is refreshing and makes the book accessible to a broad range of readers. […] I appreciated the congruence of dr. Lovett's approach with the adaptive information processing model and the EMDR standard protocols. Her adaptatitions are pure common sense and the rational is clear. In summary, Trauma-Attachment Tangle […] illustrates masterful clinical work and brings insight and skill to a braod audience of parents and professionals working with our most vulnerable population of children." -Debra Wesselmann, Journal of EMDR Practice and Research , 2015

Table of Contents

Introduction. Part I: The Clinical Stories 1. Amy: Violent Behavior in an Adopted Toddler 2. Monica: EMDR for a Young Child3. Danilo: Hospitalization for Asthma Affected the Whole Family4. Max: Following Symptoms Back to their Preverbal Origin5. Aiden: Including Parents in their Child’s Trauma Resolution6. Charles and Tomas: Angry Boys, Out-of-Sync Parents 7. Zachary: Dealing with the Loss of a Parent8. Joey: Developmental Disabilities Complicating Trauma Resolution9. Vivian and Jenny: Sisters’ Different Expression of Trauma10. Ollie: The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Graduate Part II: Cultivating Positive Emotions 11. Strategies for Resource Enhancement12. Games for Promoting Connection and Cooperation13. Additional Aids to Therapy with Children Part III. Writing The New Story 14. A Healing Narrative: What? Why? How? Part IV: Conclusion 15. Trauma, Attachment, EMDR and Health

About the Author

Joan Lovett, MD, is a behavioral pediatrician practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and an EMDRIA Approved Consultant. She has given presentations and trainings about treating childhood trauma in the US, Canada, Central America, Europe, and Asia. Dr. Lovett is also the author of Small Wonders: Healing Childhood Trauma with EMDR.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Applied Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / Child & Adolescent
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychopathology / Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)