EFFECTIVE EMDR THERAPY FOR CHILDREN: PROCESSING TRAUMA AND BUILDING RESILIENCE

EMDR for Kids Therapy
What is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapeutic approach that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of a wide range of psychological conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. EMDR therapy is based on the idea that traumatic experiences can cause disruptions in the brain’s information processing system, and that by using bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or taps, these disruptions can be processed and resolved.

While EMDR therapy is typically associated with adults, it is also a well-supported and effective treatment for children who have experienced trauma.

When a distressing or painful event occurs, the memory of that event can sometimes become “lodged” within both the body and the mind. As time passes, this trauma may start to manifest in troubling ways. For instance, children who have faced a traumatic event may struggle with a range of emotional and behavioural issues, including anxious or upsetting thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares. EMDR therapy provides a safe and supportive environment where these children can process their traumatic experiences and develop coping skills.

EMDR for Children

Preparation and Assessment: Just like with adults, it’s important to establish a strong therapeutic relationship and ensure the child feels safe and supported before beginning EMDR. A comprehensive assessment will be conducted to determine the child’s readiness for EMDR and to identify specific targets (traumatic memories or distressing experiences) that need to be addressed.

Adaptation of Techniques: The traditional EMDR protocol may need to be adapted for children based on their developmental stage, age, and cognitive abilities. This might involve using age-appropriate language, creative techniques (such as drawing, storytelling, or play therapy), and shorter sessions to maintain the child’s engagement and comfort.

Bilateral Stimulation: EMDR involves bilateral stimulation, which can be achieved through eye movements, tapping, or auditory cues. With children, the therapist might use creative methods to engage them in bilateral stimulation, such as having them follow a moving object with their eyes or tapping their hands together.

Resource Development: Before addressing traumatic memories, it’s common to build up the child’s internal resources. This can involve helping them identify positive coping strategies, strengths, and supportive people in their lives. These resources can serve as a foundation for the EMDR process.

Calming Techniques: Children might experience heightened emotions during EMDR sessions, so it’s important to teach them relaxation and grounding techniques to manage distress. Breathing exercises, visualisation, and sensory grounding activities can be useful tools.

Metaphors and Play: Metaphors and play therapy techniques can be particularly effective with children. Therapists might use stories, drawings, or toys to help children understand the EMDR process and express their feelings more comfortably.

Parental Involvement: Depending on the child’s age and situation, involving parents or caregivers can be valuable. Parents can provide additional support at home and help reinforce the child’s progress.

Flexibility and Patience: Children’s responses to EMDR can vary widely. Some children might show significant improvement after a few sessions, while others might need more time. It’s important to be patient, flexible, and willing to adjust the approach based on the child’s reactions and needs.

Ethical Considerations: When working with children, therapists must ensure that they have the necessary training and expertise in child development, trauma, and EMDR techniques. Additionally, obtaining informed consent from parents or legal guardians is crucial.

It’s important to note that our Child EMDR Therapists are trained and licensed mental health professionals. 

If you are interested in exploring EMDR therapy as an option for your child, please call us on 03 9688 8049 to learn more.