EMDR to Treat Children and Adolescents: Clinicians' Experiences Using The EMDR Journey Game

Deborah M Courtney, Fordham University


Background and Significance: The intersection of attachment theories, developmental theories, neurobiological theories and brain science all help explain the potential negative consequences of childhood trauma, such as poor mental health, emotional and behavioral outcomes. Consequently, early intervention with effective trauma informed treatments, such as EMDR is necessary. The EMDR Journey Game© integrates creative therapies to help make EMDR more accessible to clinicians and young clients, with the goal of enhancing clinician confidence and client engagement. Methods: Sixty-nine trained EMDR clinicians completed an online survey that explored their perceived engagement of and confidence working with young clients. Bivariate analyses compared engagement and confidence variables for those who have utilized the Journey Game© and those who have not. Six ordinal regressions were run using SPSS, plus an MPLUS analysis, to test if use of the game predicted engagement and confidence. Open-ended questions also reinforced quantitative findings while exploring clinicians’ experiences that could not be quantified. Findings: Use of the game was significantly correlated with and predicted engagement of children with EMDR, and this relationship was strongest for young children, followed by adolescents. Qualitative themes also bolstered these findings. Use of the game was marginally correlated with but did not predict clinician confidence using EMDR with children. Conclusions: The strongest relationship was between use of the game and engagement of young children with EMDR. This provides evidence that integrating EMDR with creative therapies in the Journey Game© indeed enhanced engagement with young clients. Further exploration is needed to determine what predicts clinician confidence utilizing EMDR with young clients. Both of these areas are important because they impact therapeutic outcomes with this population, where early successful intervention is key to healthy futures. Clinicians, administrators and researchers should be aware of the importance of making EMDR and other trauma informed approaches developmentally appropriate. Creating tools that integrate creative therapies and supporting implementation can help achieve this.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Social work|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Courtney, Deborah M, "EMDR to Treat Children and Adolescents: Clinicians' Experiences Using The EMDR Journey Game" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3621029.