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EMDR and Children

Here at Play Therapy i.n.c. we are passionate about educating the community about different interventions that are based in neuro science to help children and families heal and reach their greatest potential. There are lots of interventions used by professionals out there and EMDR is one we stand behind. What is EMDR? EMDR stand for: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or could just be considered reprocessing therapy. EMDR uses bi-lateral stimulation such as: alternating hand tapping, eye movements, pulsers, or auditory pulsing when recalling a past traumatic event to integrate both hemisphere of the brain to reprocess past traumatic memories. Does EMDR work for children and teens? The answer is yes! EMDR can be an amazing way of working with children to reprocess distressing and traumatic memories. Children and teen’s emotional and behavioral issues can often be linked with some past traumatic experience. Sometimes as parents we know exactly what traumatic events happened and other times we might not be aware an event was traumatic to our child. EMDR can be an effective therapeutic modality that helps clear these distressing memories, so children can be more present, more confident, more self-aware, and better able to cope in all areas of life. Another amazing thing with using EMDR with children is since their brains are still developing, they process trauma typically faster than adults. What might take an adult an hour to process can take a child 5 minutes. EMDR with children can be simple, with the child processing trauma in a passive way to get the hard work done. It’s important when looking for and EMDR therapist that the therapist specializes in working with children. EMDR integrates easily into other forms of therapy such as play therapy, sand tray therapy, and art therapy. A therapist who specializes in working with kids knows how to use these techniques to help the child create the event they want/need to process, and is able to get creative in ways to help the child express the story of these events in a safe and understandable way for the child. For example, using art or play to help the child visualize the event, and bi-lateral stimulation using patty cake, drumming, or foot stomping are all creative ways to help the child process through EMDR techniques. With this the most important part of the therapeutic process is the relationship between child and therapist and that safety is established. EMDR can be used effectively to treat many common behavioral and emotional issues in children including: anxiety and fear such as school phobia, nightmare/night terrors, persistent bed wetting, unreasonable guilt, anger and tantrums, depression, oppositional behavior, and many more. It is important to ask your therapist that they specialize in working with children and their level of EMDR training. Level 1, Level 2, EMDR Certified, or trained in Parnell’s modified protocol. Again, no matter the level of training in EMDR or the protocol used, the most important thing is that they specialize in working with kids, the relationship between therapist and child, and that safety is established. Here at Play Therapy i.n.c. we utilize many techniques to help children integrate their experiences, reengage in nurturing relationships, and connect to themselves, family, and friends. We are able combine using Synergetic Play Therapy and EMDR techniques when individualizing our care for children and families. Both Erin and Kelly are Level 2 EMDR trained and Matt is Level 1 EMDR trained.