EMDR in children and adolescents with PTSD


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) was developed by Shapiro (1989). EMDR is an integrative evidence-based therapy, that for over twenty years, has been used to treat disorders relating to traumatic stress and distressing life experiences (Shapiro, 1995, 2001). EMDR relies on an AIP model that proposes that present problems are based on earlier experiences that have been dysfunctionally registered in the brain and need to be reprocessed (Shapiro, 2012). The primary usage of EMDR therapy was within the military personnel diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The EMDR therapy contains eight phases: History, Preparation, Assessment, Desensitization, Installation, Body Scan, Closure and Re-evaluation (Shapiro, 1995 and second edition 2001). Individuals who suffered traumatization can develop a series of problems like intrusive memories, nightmares, irritability, flashbacks, new fears, and avoidance strategies. When the individual is traumatized they experience such strong emotions that is thought to overwhelm the brain. Consequently the brain is unable to cope with it, or to process the information. The information processing theory suppose that this blocked information processing is facilitated by alternating bilateral stimulation (ABLS) using left/right eye movements, tactile stimulations or sounds (J. M.-Smith, M. Silvestre, 2014).

NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidelines recommend to “Using the EMDR therapy for children and adolescents (7–17 years old) with a diagnosis of PTSD or clinically important symptoms of PTSD who have presented more than 3 months after a traumatic event only if they do not respond to or engage with trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy” (NICE, 2018). Also AACAP recommends EMDR therapy for adults and children with PTSD, and explaining that it’s effective for adults but the most randomized controlled trials for child EMDR have had serious methodologic shortcomings (Journal of The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Volume 49, number 4, April 2010).






Songül Derin

Original Work Citation

Derin, S. (2019). EMDR in children and adolescents with PTSD. Presentation at the 11th International Congress on Psychopharmacology & 7th International Symposium on Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. Psychiatry and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 29(S1). doi:10.1080/24750573.2019.1648733



“EMDR in children and adolescents with PTSD,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed July 28, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/26372.

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