Home Book Reviews Rewiring the Addicted Brain with EMDR- Based Treatment

Rewiring the Addicted Brain with EMDR- Based Treatment


Written by Laurel Parnell

Reviewed by Akanksha Anand

Rewiring the Addicted Brain with EMDR- Based Treatment is a handbook written for “therapists, substance use counselors, and lay people seeking user-friendly tools to help support themselves in recovery” (pg. x). Parnell offers a descriptive introduction that informs the reader what to expect from the book, how it is organized and a brief summary of each part of the book. One of the unique aspects of the book is that it does not need to be read in order. The author instead suggests finding the chapter that would be most beneficial to the client depending on what they are currently struggling with and equip them with the necessary tools found in that chapter. It is important to note that the author explicitly cautions that EMDR therapy can and should only be practiced by licensed mental health counselors or clinicians who have been trained in this modality. In addition to her attachment focus EMDR approach, Parnell also includes aspects from an EMDR-based technique called Resource Tapping. Tapping in are exercises based on the Resource Tapping technique that non-EMDR therapists and lay people can put into use.

The book is divided into five parts, each of which comprehensively describes what to expect from each section. The crux of the book, in this writer’s opinion, lies in the second part where Parnell elucidates the four fundamental resources that aid in creating “an internal structure that helps clients feel more secure and stable” (pg.39). The first of the four resources, called “Peaceful Place”, is an imagery exercise that helps clients calm their agitated body and mind by picturing an ever-present safe haven. This allows clients to separate themselves from the current internal chaos and bring their focus to the image that allows them a semblance of peace. The other resources similarly ask clients to imagine a sacred place, a figure (either real or imaginary) who was nurturing and one that was protective. The section goes on to provide tools that would be helpful in managing and overcoming anxiety, depression and feeling a sense of inertia.

The final part of the book includes transcripts of cases that allow the reader to have a more in-depth understanding of how the tools included in the book might be incorporated into therapy. Parnell offers an introduction into the client’s life, their presenting problem, traumas, and the like. She then includes the dialogue that took place during the session and offers explanations of why she chose to go a certain route or focus on a particular skill with the client.

Rewiring the Addicted Brain with EMDR- Based Treatment also includes sections that could be used verbatim to guide the client into tapping in and utilizing their internal resources. The book is meticulously written, attempting to answer all possible questions the reader may have in the introduction. She covers how the book is to be used and read, how it is organized, the need for the book and basic terminology used throughout. The book is kind towards readers of all scholastic levels because of its straight-forward and effortless construction. Parnell’s writing is compassionate and free flowing, with the absence of unnecessary jargon (that hasn’t already been explained) that make for a light and easy read. The segments of the book that are more instructional contain clear directives that elucidate the reasoning behind the technique being utilized. Overall, the book is an intensely informative piece of work that will supplement one’s knowledge and possibly add greater value to their collection of clinical gold.

To read an excerpt from the book, please click here

Dr. Laurel Parnell is an internationally recognized clinical psychologist, author, consultant and EMDR trainer. She is the author of five books on EMDR and has trained thousands of clinicians in EMDR both nationally and internationally. She has taught at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and was core faculty at John F. Kennedy University.

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Akanksha Anand is an international student from India who received her Masters in Forensic Mental Health Counseling from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is also a recipient of the Pinkerton Graduate Community Fellowship through which she had the opportunity to work closely in a therapeutic capacity with individuals struggling with severe mental illnesses, substance use and the unfairness of the criminal justice system.



Parnell, L. (2020). Rewiring the Addicted Brain with EMDR- Based Treatment. New York, NY: W.W Norton & Company, Inc., ISBN:978-0-393-71423-4  Paperback: Includes references and index