EMDR with Children

When children are traumatized or have upsetting experiences, they lose a sense of control over their lives.  This can result in anxiety, depression, irritability, anger, guilt and/or behavior problems.  Events such as accidents, abuse, violence, death and natural disasters are traumatic and we do not always recognize the ways they effect and influence a child’s everyday life.  Even common upsetting childhood events, such as divorce, school problems, peer difficulties or family problems can deeply affect a child’s sense of security, self-esteem and development.

When an upsetting, scary or painful experience happens, sometimes the memory of the experience stays stuck or frozen in the mind and body.  The experience may return in a distressing and intrusive way and the child may cope by avoiding everything associated with the experience.

EMDR helps resolve the troubling thoughts and feelings related to the distressing memories so that children can return to their normal developmental tasks and prior levels of coping.  In addition, EMDR can help to strengthen feelings of confidence, calmness and mastery.  –From “EMDR and Children”, EMDRIA International Association, 2009.

Having an ongoing feeling of being unsafe is a difficulty many who have experienced trauma face.  In my experience EMDR can help.  I have witnessed adolescents become more present, increase their ability to concentrate, improve their relationships and use their inner strengths to get them through stressful situations.  I have seen young children decrease symptoms such as nightmares, anxiety, avoidance and hyperactivity.  There is much richness in developing resources with children and teens as preparation for reprocessing trauma. These resources help to reduce anxiety, loneliness, fears and helplessness.  I have seen people’s perspective of their lives and situations change and they become more able to make use of their inner strengths.

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