Background: The case study presents the use of EMDR therapy in the treatment of early traumatic experiences in an adolescent girl with a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa. Help was initially sought after the patient began rapidly losing weight.

Aims: The aim of the study is to show the use of EMDR as a specific treatment for trauma, perceived as a trigger for Anorexia Nervosa. The treatment aim was to accept the body changes and return to a weight which enabled optimal functioning in everyday life.

Case report: The patient was a 17 year old female, attending the third grade of high school and living with her mother and sister. The treatment was conducted in several phases. Phase one involved psychological support and psychoeducation. Phase two consisted of teaching techniques, such as diaphragmic breathing, visualization, relaxation, practicing of positive self-talk, assertive communication skills, anger management and the development of self-awareness. In phase three, EMDR therapy was used in order to process a traumatic experience identified as a major trigger for her eating disorder. There was a change in the patient’s perception of her mother from someone that she adored into “a monster”. This led to a distorted perception of her body based on the assumption “I am only safe in a child’s body”. EMDR therapy activates adaptive neurophysiological pathways, which in turn facilitate functional information processing and the reconsolidation of the dysfunctionally stored memories. This leads to a reduction in anxiety and an improvement in symptomatology. In addition, the treatment facilitates the development of more adaptive insights and the change of beliefs and behaviours previously connected with the experienced traumas. The standard EMDR protocol consisting of eight phases was used. In just two sessions the patient developed a considerable awareness of, and change in, her emotional reactions connected to the trauma, as well as the cognitive and emotional integration of the traumatic experiences. The treatment was not completed. The patient reported feeling an improvement in functioning and did not attend offered appointments, a decision supported by her mother.

Conclusions: Based on this case study it is concluded that EMDR can actively contribute to the alleviation of pathological symptoms of an eating disorder that includes an early traumatic experience. For reliable and general conclusions about the role of EMDR in the treatment of eating disorder, it is necessary to examine the effectiveness of its use in controlled studies.