EMDR Therapy for Children and Teens

We work with older children (12 years and up) and teenagers who have experienced trauma. Just like adults children and teenagers can experience PTSD.

EMDR therapy is successful in treating trauma survivors both young and old and is the most researched psychotherapeutic treatment for post traumatic stress EMDR Therapy for Childrendisorder (PTSD). When a painful or upsetting experience happens, the memory of the experience sometimes stays “stuck” in the body and mind. Over time, the occurrence may manifest anew in disturbing and invasive ways. In essence EMDR therapy can help the brain “digest” the memory of the traumatic event in a safe and effective way.

EMDR therapy works extremely well with children and teens, as they tend to take to the process quickly and have experienced less accumulated trauma than adults. EMDR as “a non-drug, non-hypnosis psychotherapy procedure.

Studies show that at least two thirds of children will experience at least one traumatic event by the time they are 16 years old. Trauma can result from one event, multiple events, or a series of them. These events can cause children to see the world as dangerous and can alter their ability to function. A traumatic event is one that threatens injury, death, or the physical integrity of self or others and also causes horror, terror, or helplessness at the time it occurs.

Traumatic events for children and teens can include:

  • sexual abuse/physical abuse/neglect
  • domestic violence
  • community and school violence (bullying)
  • medical trauma (birth trauma/surgeries/illness)
  • motor vehicle accidents
  • natural and human-made disasters
  • divorce/separation
  • suicides and other traumatic losses

EMDR Therapy for Older Children

EMDR Therapy for ChildrenChildren can be traumatized by any experience that overwhelms them. If the experience is too much for the child and their internal resources then they can be traumatized. Children can be traumatized in many different ways, not just through abuse or neglect. They can be effected by divorce, inconsistent parenting, bullied at school or humiliated by peers, medical trauma and repeated disappointments. Theses experiences cause long lasting negative effects and can lead to low self esteem, depression and unhappiness as a adult.


Children who are traumatized can exhibit the following symptoms:

  • the development of new fears
  • separation anxiety (particularly in young children)
  • sleep disturbance, nightmares
  • anger (increase in temper tantrums or rages response)
  • somatic complaints (stomachaches/headaches)

EMDR Therapy for Teenagers

It is more common than not for children and adolescents to be exposed to more than a single traumatic event. Children exposed to chronic and pervasive trauma areteen trauma especially vulnerable to the impact of subsequent trauma. When trauma accumulates for children and teens the effects can be long  lasting creating greater and more severe symptoms as well as difficulties later in life as adults.

EMDR therapy is a perfect treatment for teenagers. Because teenagers are notorious for “not wanting to talk about their feelings” EMDR therapy is a great fit for them. EMDR therapy works directly with the brain and the ways memories are stored  so it requires very little talking during the processing of the stored memories. Clients are asked to share specific information in order to help the clinician develop a target of the traumatic material but most of the talking takes place at the beginning and  at the end of a EMDR session.

EMDR therapy also works quickly which is another benefit to teens and their parents. Due to the speed in which processing takes place many trauma related issues can be resolved in fewer sessions than traditional therapy for teens.

Common symptoms for teens include:

  • difficulty concentrating (school issues)EMDR Therapy for Children and Teens
  • exhibit signs of aggression
  • easily startled
  • withdrawn/isolated (pull away form family members and friends)
  • sense of doom
  • unexplained illness (stomachaches/headaches)
  • flashbacks and nightmares (waking up at night)
  • fearful of people/places
  • risky behaviors/choices
  • self harming behaviors
  • sexual acting out behaviors
  • sadness/depression
  • loss of interest in normal activities
  • irritability
  • substance use

We have experience working with LGBTQ teens and those who are questioning their sexuality. They may be experiencing relational trauma, bullying or homophobia creating trauma responses. Please ask us about our specialized services in this area.

EMDR therapy helps teens to recover form traumatic experiences and can boost their self esteem, confidence and build resiliency for the daily pressures of teen life.

EMDR Process

teens trauma EMDRIn our work with children and teens we strive to create a safe, nurturing environment where we join with your child to build a positive connection and trusting relationship.

We gather information from parents about their child and a history of their current symptoms. We give a detailed explanation of the EMDR therapy process to parents as well as more simplified explanation to children and teens.

We incorporate play, story, sand tray and other methods of child friendly techniques with the use of EMDR therapy.

Also, we work closely with the parents of children and teens  and incorporate family therapy in the treatment process. Including the family in treatment is a key component for minors in their healing process form trauma.

Don’t wait! Get your child or teenager help today with EMDR therapy. Call family therapist Angi Smith, LMHC at 503-314-9337 to schedule a  appointment.