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EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, is a type of counseling that can be very helpful for teenagers who have experienced trauma. EMDR for teenagers can help reduce the symptoms of PTSD and other disorders, and can also help improve overall mental health. If you are a parent or guardian of a teenager who has experienced trauma, EMDR may be worth considering. We’ll share what benefits EMDR can offer for your loved one.

What Is EMDR And How Does It Work?

EMDR for teenagers is a non-invasive and holistic approach to therapy. We’ll share exactly what EMDR is and how EMDR can be good for teens who are struggling.

What Is EMDR?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of therapy that has been found to be effective in treating trauma. During the therapy, an EMDR trained therapist follows a set protocol which includes assessment, resources building and, eventually, guides the patient through a series of eye movements while they recall their traumatic experience. This helps the patient to reprocess the memory and reduce the associated stress and anxiety surrounding the traumatic event.

How Does EMDR Work?

It's not entirely clear how EMDR works, but EMDR therapy can be a powerful tool for teenagers who are struggling with trauma. It can help them to reprocess the memories of their traumatic experience, and reduce the associated symptoms. EMDR may also help to change the way they view their trauma, allowing them to move forward in life in a more positive direction. If you're considering EMDR therapy for your teenager, talk to an EMDR trained therapist to see if it's the right fit for them.

How Can EMDR Help Teenagers Who Are Struggling With Anxiety Or Depression Symptoms?

EMDR therapy has been found to be an effective treatment for varying degrees of trauma. It has also been shown to be effective for helping with disorders, like anxiety or depression, when major trauma is not present. EMDR will help the patient's brain reprocess memories. This can be beneficial for teenagers who are struggling with symptoms of anxiety or depression. EMDR can help to improve mood, increase self-confidence, and help the teenager to feel more in control of his or her life. EMDR therapy can also help to address any underlying issues that may be contributing to the teenager's symptoms. The EMDR Institute shares that in some studies, up to 90% of trauma survivors did not appear to have any PTSD symptoms after just 3 sessions.

What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Using EMDR Therapy For Teenagers?

EMDR therapy is a relatively new treatment approach that has been found to be effective in the treatment of trauma. It involves guiding the patient through a series of eye movements while they recall their traumatic experience. This incredibly focused movement and concentration allows the patient to reprocess memories and reduce any associated stress and anxiety. EMDR has been shown to be especially beneficial for teenagers, who are often struggling with the aftermath of a traumatic event.

Some of the benefits of EMDR therapy for teenagers include:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Reprocessing of traumatic memories, reducing their impact on the individual
  • Gives a sense of control over one's life
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Reduced nightmares, which will increase sleep and improve sleep patterns
  • Reduced physical symptoms of stress and anxiety (i.e. panic attacks, anger, headaches, etc)
  • May improve symptoms associated with depression
  • May help reduce the use of psychotropic medications

For teenagers who have experienced a traumatic event and are struggling with PTSD, EMDR therapy can be an extremely effective way to address the associated stress and anxiety. It can help adolescents to process painful memories in a more positive way, leading to a reduction in symptoms and an overall improvement in their quality of life. EMDR is a safe and effective, non-evasive, treatment approach, with studies showing that EMDR may have slightly more effectiveness on reducing traumatic symptoms than cognitive behavioral therapy.

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Are There Any Risks Associated With Using EMDR Therapy For Teenagers?

EMDR therapy is a relatively safe treatment approach. However, as with any form of therapy, there are some risks associated with its use. For example, in rare cases, EMDR may cause additional distress for the patient. Additionally, if the therapist is not properly trained in EMDR, they may not be able to provide the necessary support to the patient. It is important to consult with a therapist who is familiar with EMDR, is EMDR trained, or EMDR certified before starting treatment.

How Can Parents Tell If Their Teenager Would Benefit From EMDR Therapy?

If your teenager is experiencing stress, depression, a significant lack of focus, loss of interest in life, or expresses the desire to commit self-harm, EMDR would be a great therapy treatment to consider. If you are unsure if your teen is suffering from any of those symptoms, the following scenarios are situations where a teenager would benefit from EMDR therapy.

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  • Teen experiences flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, or extreme emotions.
  • Teen has experienced a traumatic event (i.e. loss of a parent, divorce, assault, etc.).
  • Teen experiences sadness, lack of motivation, or loneliness to such a severe degree that it is negatively impacting their life.
  • Teen expresses desire to use self-harm or end their life by suicide.

What Should You Expect From The EMDR Treatment Process?

EMDR is not typically used for mild anxiety or stress, but it can be an effective treatment for more severe cases. EMDR may be a good option for teens who have experienced a traumatic event and are struggling with symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and avoidance of reminders of the event.

If you are considering EMDR therapy for your teen, it is important to understand what you should expect from treatment. EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a psychotherapy method that allows patients to heal from emotional and physical distress resulting from a traumatic life experience. Some of the most common side effects of emotional or physically distressing experiences are anxiety, stress, depression, inability to focus, inability to connect to others, low self-confidence, social isolation, and more.

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EMDR is a non-evasive, holistic approach that helps patients rewire the way their brain processes trauma, helping the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disorders to become more manageable or subside. EMDR therapy has a standard protocol that includes assessment, building resources, bilateral stimulation via eye movements, tapping, or sound along with talk therapy with the trained EMDR therapist. The goal of EMDR therapy is to assist the client in processing traumatic events using the power of their own brain so they are no longer hijacked by them.

While EMDR can relieve suffering resulting from major trauma, recent studies are showing that it may also be an effective treatment for depression and stress that are not triggered by a traumatic event. If your teen is currently in therapy and struggling to progress, EMDR may be an alternative option for you to consider.

Parents Can Actually Help 

As a parent, it is painful to watch our children struggle. We can feel helpless when we are watching our children deal with deep and painful emotions, feeling like we can’t be the cure. But you actually can. Giving your child the support they need through the help of professionals can be one of the best things you do. So if you are the parent of a teenager who is being weighed down by anxiety or depression, EMDR therapy for teenagers may be worth considering.

If you want to help your teen cope with anxiety, trauma, or depression, reach out to an EMDR trained or EMDR certified therapist. Not all therapists will have EMDR training, so it is imperative you speak with a trained therapist about EMDR and how it could benefit your child.

Emdr therapy for teens

At Pure Life Adventure, we specialize in providing EMDR therapy for adolescents and young adults and would be happy to answer any questions you have about this powerful form of treatment. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help your teen achieve success.

EMDR for teens

Pure Life’s adventure therapy program, based in Costa Rica, works with struggling teens and young adults to build self-efficacy, teach healthy coping strategies, behavioral and emotional regulation, leadership skills, and life skills that will allow participants to become independent, productive, and successful adults. For more information about Pure Life’s adventure therapy model and admission process, please visit


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