What is EMDR and Can it Help My Child?

*Today’s blog is written by Debbie Haughton, a licensed mental health counselor who is on our Hope for Hurting Parents caring concernBoard. She will explain what EMDR is and how it could help your child.

It’s difficult for a parent to see their son or daughter struggle and rebel. Some rebellion turns into drug and alcohol use, casual sex, and sometimes breaking the law. Parents feel powerless over what to do. Usually when a son or daughter is angry, belligerent, shutting down, unmotivated, or lashing out it usually means they are unhappy with themselves.
One of the best ways to help this situation is to provide counseling.

A very effective method that can be used to help someone who is stuck like this is called EMDR. I use this approach with 90% of my clients because they get better faster and really get to the root of their issues more easily.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) is a great tool to help our sons and daughters get better.
How EMDR works:
1. Core beliefs are identified like “I’m not good enough”, “I deserve bad”, “I am inadequate”, etc.

2. Once they are identified the counselor will help trace back memories that started these faulty core beliefs. These faulty beliefs could have started over a fight with a friend, being bullied, being rejected by the opposite sex, sexual abuse, and much more.

3. A memory is chosen to work on where the faulty belief began.

4. Eye movement, where the client looks at the therapist’s hands going from side to side is used, as they go back to earlier memories where the negative thinking started.

5. The eye movement stimulates the brain like REM sleep to help the individual think differently about the past event.

6. The brain learns to reprocess the original memory in a more adaptive, healthier way so the person believes something positive rather than negative.
For example, let’s say your child was rejected by her peers. She experienced this rejection and began to believe she wasn’t good enough. This faulty belief began to affect her grades at school. She became depressed and angry. As time goes on she begins to find other ways to fit in by using drugs and having sex with any boy that shows her interest.

EMDR would identify the chain of events that led up to her bad feelings about herself and be able to fix where those feelings started. It gets to the heart of the issues quicker than any other therapy I’ve practiced. I started using this approach several years ago and it has transformed many of my clients.

Here are a few examples:
• A young woman who had dropped out of college, smoked too much pot and isolated herself, went back to school, improved her grades, got a job and began doing volunteer work.
• Another client got rid of anger issues after recognizing they were connected to past abuse.
• And another client who struggled with heavy drinking began to make healthier lifestyle changes because they recognized the reasons for their drinking.

To summarize, EMDR helps people change the way they react to current issues by going back to earlier experiences that might have caused them to develop faulty beliefs and patterns that keep them from living a healthy lifestyle. If you’re concerned about your son or daughter, I suggest they try EMDR counseling.



Debbie Haughton is a licensed mental health counselor in Orlando, Florida. For further information about her practice go to www.orlandocounselingservices.netDebbie Haughton


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