By Deborah R. Huso

EMDR has been successful in treating trauma from childhood abuse in victims and survivors young and old.

With more than 3 million instances of child abuse reported annually in the United States and probably many more cases going unreported, social workers face an often daunting client list of children and adults who are or have been victims of abuse and neglect. Left untreated, these individuals’ chances of leading lives fraught with substance abuse, incarceration, unwanted pregnancies, and future psychological conditions are multiplied by many degrees.

In the last two decades, however, researchers have made major strides in developing methods for treating victims and survivors of child abuse, including therapies that work as well (and in some cases better) with children as with adults. Among the most successful of these treatments is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a therapeutic process that uses eye movements, sounds, and repetitive motions to help clients process and come to terms with traumatic memories more quickly than talk therapy alone. And since many children and some adults are unable to verbalize traumatic experiences, EMDR can often provide the breakthrough that more traditional therapies can’t.

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