EMDR and play therapy in traumatised children


Young children who are not yet fully developed mentally can not differentiate the past traumatic memory from the present reality and in metabolising disturbing trauma memories. Children usually mix their past experience and the present through play to help them connect the pieces of experience into a narrative that is understandable for them. Every piece of trauma in the past is integrated into their life and may adversely influence their personality formation. Trauma work with children through play and EMDR techniques can be helpful in preventing such distortion, especially among disable children. EMDR method was applied to a 10 years old boy with learning disability. He was separated from his family and stayed at the residential home. He had his past experience of witnessing domestic violence since early infancy. The injuries sustained by his mother had caused great concern for him. He also experienced sexual abuse by another boy which was reflected in sex play with his peers. He had attention problem, aggressive behaviours together with difficulty in regulating his moods. Because of his limitation, he preferred to communicate his emotions through action and play rather than verbally. His preoccupation was expressed through figures fighting that typically resulted in death. During the play session, the therapist would intermittently take a pause with him and the bilateral tapping was applied corresponding with the event in play, for example checking through the worst event, the negative event, the positive event, the strength, the changes taking place in their mind and the play. Most of his play started with the fighting and ended with the good figures won. The installation was applied at the end. His behaviours were monitored at the residential home and at the school. It was found later that he could control his anger better and he was able to tell the caretakers showing that he was aware of his feelings and his behaviours. The conclusion can be drawn that the use of bilateral stimulation during play therapy has facilitated changes in his behaviours, affects, and communication.






Parichawan Chandarasiri

Original Work Citation

Chandarasiri, P. (2008, June). EMDR and play therapy in traumatised children. Presentation at the 9th EMDR International Association Conference, London, England



“EMDR and play therapy in traumatised children,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed August 5, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/19586.

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