Explaining EMDR to children

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a powerful therapy that helps people process and heal from traumatic experiences. While it’s incredibly effective, explaining EMDR to children can be a challenging task.

Whether as a caregiver you are trying to help the child learn more about EMDR, or you are interested in how this process is explained in the session, this information might be helpful to get a better understanding of this amazing form of therapy.

What is important to note that with younger children it is not uncommon for parents to be invited to be a part of the EMDR session.

  1. Start with the Basics

Begin by explaining the fundamental idea behind EMDR. You can say something like, “EMDR is a special kind of therapy that helps people feel better when they have scary or sad memories that make them feel upset.”

  1. Introduce the Brain’s Superpower

Next, introduce the brain’s amazing ability to heal itself. Say something like, “Our brains are like superheroes! They have a special power that helps us feel better after something scary or bad happens. It’s like a built-in superpower just for us!”

  1. The EMDR “Magic”

Explain EMDR in simple terms. Say, “EMDR is a special way that helps our brains use their healing power.  It helps us feel better about things that used to make us really upset.”

  1. Talk About the Therapist

Explain that there is a special person, called a therapist, who helps with EMDR. Emphasize that the therapist is there to listen and support them. They’re here to make sure we feel safe and okay.

  1. Address Questions and Concerns

Encourage your child to ask questions. Answer them honestly and in language they can understand. If they express worries or fears, validate their feelings and reassure them.

  1. Explain the Process

Describe what a typical EMDR session might look like. You can say, “During an EMDR session, we’ll sit in a cozy room and talk to the therapist. They might ask us to think about something that makes us feel upset, but it’s okay because they’re right there with us. Sometimes, we might do something like watching moving lights or tapping our hands gently. It’s all part of helping our brain use its superpower.”

  1. Focus on the Positive

Highlight the positive outcomes of EMDR. Say, “After we do EMDR, we might start to feel better about the things that used to bother us. It’s like taking a big step towards feeling strong and happy again.”