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07-31 PTSD children can be treated with EMDR therapy, finds study

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PTSD children can be treated with EMDR therapy, finds study

Experiencing shocking events can at times take a toll, resulting in some people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The symptoms of the disorder can be debilitating, if not treated timely. While clinicians continue to treat PTSD patients using traditional therapy methods, recent observations suggest the effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) technique or cognitive behavioral writing therapy (CBWT) in treating both children and teenagers seeking relief from the disorder.

In the study titled “Comparison of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, cognitive behavioral writing therapy, and wait-list in pediatric posttraumatic stress disorder following single-incident trauma: a multicenter randomized clinical trial,” researchers contrasted the efficacy of EMDR with that of CBWT in children and teenagers, aged 8-18 years, who had undergone distressing incidents like road accidents, sexual assaults, physical attacks or loss of a loved one. The study, published recently in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, observed that the patients were required to face their worst fears or relive their painful memories in a subdued state.

Examining effectiveness of EMDR therapy

The researchers emphasized how during the EMDR therapy clinicians activate the traumatic memory during the same time as the child’s working memory is required to coordinate his or her eye movement with the action of the therapist’s fingers. The scientists observed 103 children and teenagers who had agreed to participate in the study. An average of four sessions was found to be enough to guarantee success in the treatment of the respondents.

The researchers found EMDR and writing therapy almost equally efficient in alleviating reactions to post-traumatic stress, anxiousness and symptoms of the depressive disorder in addition to behavioral disorders. Also, these therapies consumed less time and were found to be cost effective in nature. One of the co-authors of the study, Carlijn de Roos, stressed, “We literally used a stopwatch to time the length of both trauma treatments. This showed that EMDR reaches positive effects fastest (2 hours and 20 minutes on average) compared to the writing therapy (3 hours and 47 minutes on average). The most important thing, of course, was that the results were lasting, as shown during a follow-up measurement one year later.”

Elucidating on the need to treat PTSD-affected children and adolescents timely, De Roos said that those who do not get the right treatment are at risk of developing more troubles. Looking at the huge prevalence of the disorder among children, it is imperative that PTSD screening is mandated for them and that should be included as a necessary practice within the realm of childcare aimed at treating mental health problems. Post determination of the disorder, a brief trauma-focused treatment option can to a great extent alleviate manifestations of the disorder. Brief and focused care will help PTSD adolescents and children while also lowering the pervasiveness of the disorder.

Road to recovery

The effectiveness of EMDR and writing therapy in lowering distress levels among teens and kids cannot be ignored. While researches are stressing on the need for children to undergo such treatment procedures, it is also necessary that follow-up researches are carried out to ensure their effectiveness.

If your child is showing signs of PTSD, Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego can help. Remember that PTSD, if left untreated, can result in teenage suicidal behavior. We offer comfort, ease of access and cutting-edge suicidal ideation treatment that is scientifically customized to help in recovery from various disorders owing to trauma. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our representative for details.

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