EMDR Therapy, which stands for “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing,” is a simple yet very effective therapy that can help your brain process traumatic memories differently. EMDR treatment is designed to take you back to the initial moment you encountered a particular stressor or trauma. It then helps you take a step away from that moment, almost as if you were a third-party on the outside looking in.

How Does It Work?

 Complete treatment of the targets involves a three pronged protocol (1-past memories, 2-present disturbance, 3-future actions), and are needed to alleviate the symptoms and address the complete clinical picture. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process completely the experiences that are causing problems, and to include new ones that are needed for full health. “Processing” does not mean talking about it. “Processing” means setting up a learning state that will allow experiences that are causing problems to be “digested” and stored appropriately in your brain. That means that what is useful to you from an experience will be learned, and stored with appropriate emotions in your brain, and be able to guide you in positive ways in the future. The inappropriate emotions, beliefs, and body sensations will be discarded. Negative emotions, feelings and behaviors are generally caused by unresolved earlier experiences that are pushing you in the wrong directions. The goal of EMDR therapy is to leave you with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives that will lead to healthy and useful behaviors and interactions.

Can It Be Used With Children?

 EMDR as “a non-drug, non-hypnosis psychotherapy procedure that can help both children and adults recover from both major and more minor traumas. After experiencing trauma, a child may have recurring nightmares or cope by avoiding things associated with the disturbing experience. For example, a child who experienced a car accident may exhibit defiant behavior when in a vehicle, or protest having to travel in the first place​

EMDR is effective and well supported by research evidence for treating children with symptoms accompanying posttraumatic stress (PTSD), attachment issuesdissociation, and self-regulation. It has also been effective in treating symptoms related to guiltangerdepression, and anxiety, and can be used to boost emotional resources such as confidence and self-esteem.

During the past five years, the World Health Organization and the California Evidence Based-Clearinghouse for Child Welfare recommended two psychotherapies for children, adolescents, and adults with PTSD: trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. Of the two modalities, some of the research describes EMDR as “significantly more efficient.” My experience as a therapist echoes these recommendations.


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