Helping Traumatised Children and Adolescents.
Having trained specifically to apply EMDR in an age appropriate manner to my work with children and adolescents, I have been delighted to see dramatic changes in a relatively small number of sessions.
Some children I have seen have experienced disturbing incidents that were outside their normal life experience such as a road traffic accident, bullying, medical interventions, a burglary, adult violence. I have also worked with children in very extreme distress who have witnessed continuing domestic violence or who have been sexually assaulted or suffered extreme neglect. Children may have been left feeling anxious, hypervigilant and preoccupied with their family’s safety. This can lead them to express behaviour that appears out of character such as anger and aggression, and can cause flashbacks or sleep difficulties including nightmares.
Fortunately, EMDR can help them to move on from their troubled past and to discover that they were not responsible for the bad things that had happened to them or their loved ones.
With very young children a narrative method is often used to help them to integrate difficult past experiences, creating a coherent story of their past, including happy memories, integrating the difficult ones, and focussing on their hopes for their future enjoyment. The process enables children to let go of any negative thoughts they may have about themselves.
Frequently, bilateral tapping on their knees or shoulders may be used instead of the usual eye movements. I have found that it is preferable to work with young children in the presence of their parents who can help their children to feel safe and optimistic about their future.
For older adolescents the standard approach used for adults may need little alteration, but for those who are uncomfortable with using eye movements we can also use tapping or buzzers.
Many teenagers seem to like the EMDR approach as it is a bit unusual and does not require them necessarily to repeat the history of their difficult experiences in detail.
My DBS registration is regularly updated.