EMDR is an extremely effective neurobiological form of psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to address traumatic incidents. One of the prominent characteristics of trauma is the thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma can get “stored” in teens, which makes it very difficult for them to let go of the effects. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and helps teens to process the stress related to the trauma, in order to be able to release and move on from the experience. This work might include teens processing memories, reformulating perspectives, practicing stress reduction related to physical symptoms, and more. Teen EMDR therapy has been proven to be very effective in treating trauma-related illnesses and also shown to be more effective in a shorter amount of time than in treatment solely using talk therapy based strategies.
The premise of Teen EMDR Therapy is essentially that the body and mind will find ways to heal themselves, if they are given the ability to do so. In cases of trauma then, the belief is that if the “blockages” from the trauma are removed, then the mind will be able to heal itself and overcome the effects.
The name EMDR refers to the eye movements that therapists lead teens through, during the therapy session. The eye movements mimic those of sleep, when REM (Rapid Eye Movement) occurs. During sessions, therapists lead teens through a conversation to process the different aspects of the trauma, while focusing on the external stimulus (which is usually lateral eye movements, some sort of audio stimulation, or hand tapping.) Because the external stimuli distract the teens just enough from the subject matter, teens can often organically access new thoughts and feelings surrounding the experience, while therapists can observe what the blockages exist. By processing the experience in this way, over time, teens’ brains can begin to process the information of the trauma in a way that is gradually, less and less upsetting, and therefore symptoms will diminish, as a result. Soon, teens might even be able to have a different perspective on the trauma, as well as gaining the freedom and ability to move on from the experience and not be affected by it in their daily lives.
Teen EMDR Therapy is usually implemented over a relatively brief period of time, often making up about 8 sessions. Teen EMDR therapy continues to grow as a very successful treatment technique, and we continue to see wonderful results in implementing it with teens here, at Paradigm San Francisco.