Can EMDR Therapy Help My Child?

Something awful has happened, and now your child doesn’t seem like themselves anymore. Have you been wondering if you should seek therapy for your child in the aftermath of trauma? Or perhaps wonder what kind of therapy would best help them move on from their experience? When it comes to therapy for treating trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has become the gold standard. Research has shown that EMDR therapy can be an effective treatment for adults and children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. EMDR therapy has also been found to be a safe and effective treatment for children who have experienced sexual abuse.

How does EMDR therapy work?

EMDR is a therapy that can help kids & grown ups feel better after something upsetting, scary or traumatic happens. In EMDR therapy, children will be asked to do two things at the same time! Their EMDR therapist will ask them to focus on upsetting memories while doing back-and-forth movements (typically eye movements), to feel better about stressful memories.

How is EMDR therapy different with children?

Child EMDR therapists will adapt EMDR for their young clients by incorporating playfulness, games and movement. Young children do not always respond well to eye movements so other fun options such as using musical instruments or dancing can be introduced for children. For children, EMDR therapy is often done collaboratively with children’s caregivers present and it is common for the parent to be present during each EMDR session.

Can EMDR be done virtually with my child?

Virtual EMDR sessions for children are very possible and effective! While virtual EMDR sessions for young children may require more parental involvement, it can be done! There are several considerations that should be made before deciding if virtual EMDR is the right fit for your child so it will be important for you to speak with a child EMDR therapist about the pros and cons of your child’s specific needs and situation.

How do I find an EMDR therapist for my child?

It is important to work with a therapist who has completed EMDR training. EMDRIA.org has a comprehensive listserv of qualified EMDR therapists that parents can use to search for EMDR therapists who provide services in their area for children. 

Click here to learn more about Spark All Wellness’ EMDR therapy for children and meet our EMDR-certified therapists.

Christine Mark-Griffin, Founder & Clinical Director, EMDR Specialist in San Francisco

About The Author

Christine Mark-Griffin, LCSW is the founder of Spark All Wellness. She loves working with expecting and new mamas and specializes in EMDR with women and children.