EMDR and Children

“A child can only experience his feelings when there is someone there who fully accepts them, names them and supports them.”

–John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that is effective for resolving emotional difficulties caused by disturbing, difficult, or frightening life experiences.  It can also be used to enhance feelings of connection and attachment with parents or guardians.  When children are traumatized, have upsetting experiences or repeated failures, they lose a sense of control over their lives or begin to believe that they are not worthy of being loved and valued.  This can result in symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability, anger, guilt and/or behavior  problems.  Events such as accidents, abuse, violence, death, and natural disasters are traumatic, but we do not always recognize the ways that these events affect and influence a child’s everyday life.  Even common upsetting childhood events, such as divorce, school problems, peer difficulties, failures, and family problems, can deeply affect a child’s sense of security, self-esteem and development.

EMDR therapy can be used to help to resolve the troubling thoughts and feelings related to the distressing memories so that children can return to more typical functioning and healthier levels of self-worth.  EMDR can also help to strengthen feelings of confidence, calmness and mastery, as well as feelings of connection and attachment when children struggle to internalize the evidence of true caring in their relationships with parents or guardians.

A certified EMDR therapist, Patty has used EMDR successfully with children of varying ages and ability levels.  She sometimes uses EMDR in conjunction with puppetry, therapeutic stories, sand tray and other forms of play therapy, as well as art therapy.  She often combines principles of Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) and Internal Family Systems (IFS) with EMDR as aspects of the EMDR treatment model can enhance the benefits of these models.

For more information on EMDR see “About EMDR and the FLASH technique” on this site.


Patty Roosevelt, LCPC/LPC, NCC, Certified EMDR Therapist, TBRI Practitioner
101 McCrosky Professional Park, Columbia, IL 62236