EMDR For Youth

“The past affects the present even without our being aware of it.” —Francine Shapiro

Trauma youth

What is EMDR?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is a highly effective, evidence-based approach to the treatment of trauma and/or adverse life experiences. It is used with all ages by incorporating back-and-forth movement of the body, or bilateral stimulation, which helps the brain to reprocess information or experiences that continue to negatively influence a person. EMDR with young children integrates this eight-phase treatment process within developmentally appropriate modalities such as art, play, and sand tray therapies.

How Does EMDR Work?

When an upsetting event is experienced it is stored in the brain differently than ordinary events. It can feel as though we are reliving past memories in the present moment, often re-experiencing the strong emotions, images, thoughts, and/or body sensations that were present at that time. EMDR does not change or erase any memories, but will help to reduce the emotional charge of these events. During EMDR treatment, the individual is asked to bring their attention to both the distressing memory and the bilateral stimulation (i.e. back-and-forth movement). It appears that this “dual attention stimulation” allows the information-processing system to become activated and allow for more adaptive processing to occur.

How Can EMDR Help?

Current research has identified EMDR as one of the treatments of choice in working with individuals who have experienced trauma. According to the EMDR International Association, EMDR has also been effective in treating panic attacks, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, disturbing memories, phobias, pain disorders, performance anxiety, stress reduction, addictions, body dysmorphic disorders, and personality disorders. 


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