How Trauma and EMDR Therapy Benefit Neurodivergent Individuals

Trauma-informed care is increasingly being given the attention it deserves. More and more, therapists and researchers recognize how many people from all walks of life benefit from trauma-focused therapy. This evolution in mental health care is vital for ensuring that neurodiverse people’s needs are not lost in the tendency to view trauma from a neurotypical point of view.

The impact of trauma on the brain and body of neurodiverse (ND) individuals should not be overlooked or underappreciated because they may perceive, experience, and respond to life or traumatic events differently. In fact, neurodiverse individuals benefit significantly from affirming care and appropriate trauma therapy. Methods like EMDR are invaluable in the following ways:

Key Ways Trauma & EMDR Therapy Benefit Neurodiverse Individuals

Managing Trauma and Stress in Neurodiverse Individuals

Compared to their neurotypical counterparts, neurodiverse individuals experience trauma and can fall prey to external stress due to a disconnect in social skills and behavioral control. The resulting misunderstanding and lack of everyday resources can make addressing stress relief and incident recovery more difficult. The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) has a page that offers more information on EMDR therapy and autism as well as related research studies that support this important work.

Tough social interactions, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and poor self-image in neurodiverse individuals are not unusual. Truth be told, trauma therapy is crucial for resolving disproportionate psychological stress associated with these traumatic experiences.


In particular, EMDR is a therapist-assisted, targeted therapy technique. Negative memories are given specific attention and linked to bilateral stimulation such as directed eye movements and bodily taps. EMDR therapy assists in the examination and reprocessing of traumatic memories or adverse life experiences.

This therapy is considerably helpful for neurodiverse people. Why? Those on the autism spectrum often cope with various neurological responses that make processing trauma and stress much more difficult and potentially harmful than neurotypical people.

EMDR can help manage stress and anxiety disorders that result from autism spectrum (ASD) and help manage some of the actual symptoms of autism as well. 

Though neurodiverse individuals may need some modifications made to accommodate their neurological differences,  the methodical, predictable nature of EMDR’s eight phases of treatment is ideal.

Trauma Recovery & EMDR helps individuals boost confidence in their own gifts and their ability to reach goals.

As a result of therapy and EMDR, anxiety is lessened. Positivity, rather than stress, is associated with previously difficult or painful tasks and interactions. EMDR supports a healthier outlook and aids adaptability.

When struggling to survive in a world of neurotypical standards, neurodiverse people start to see themselves through a lens of negative self-beliefs. Through EMDR therapy, negative experiences made by the neurotypical world have less impact. Even better, neurodiverse individuals can then capably and confidently lean into their strengths and supportive relationships with others while promoting safety.

EMDR Aids Traditional Autism Therapy

Typical evidence-based treatments for autism include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), applied behavior analysis (ABA), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). However, trauma-focused therapy also has the capacity to do more than these other approaches and address past traumatic events and stuck negative memories. EMDR, specifically, can support neurodiverse individuals in managing their autism spectrum needs in a neurotypical world that doesn’t always feel safe for them.

Frequently, what the neurotypical world views as inappropriate social behaviors are psychologically attached to specific memories or thought patterns. EMDR therapy helps locate and reprocess those links. Thus, neurodiverse therapy participants can potentially achieve improved social interaction, verbal and physical regulation, and overall wellbeing.

Let Us Help You Manage Trauma and Move Forward

Finally, trauma therapy can open the door to emotional freedom, feelings of safety, and a more positive view of life, the future, and relationships.

Safe, organized, and responsible trauma and EMDR therapy can afford you long-lasting support. Be sure to find a neurodiversity-affirming therapist to help promote a healing space that celebrates the unique qualities that make you who you are. Take time to meet with a qualified, compassionate professional. Learn new ways to improve and explore your thoughts and behaviors. You deserve the changes in functioning and fulfillment you long for.

Take intentional steps toward healing and dispelling beliefs or habits that don’t serve you well. I’m here to help. Please read more about individual therapy and reach out for a consultation soon.

Be well,

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2 thoughts on “How Trauma and EMDR Therapy Benefit Neurodivergent Individuals”

  1. I am a therapist of 30 years, 19 of which I have been using EMDR. Though it has had amazing results for neurotypical people, EMDR has not benefited my patients on the spectrum. In theory, I understand how their differences in thinking, feeling and conceptualizing could cause this. However, I don’t know how to, and want to learn, to alter EMDR for this population.

    1. Thank you for this comment Sabrina, there are some good trainings on how to apply modifications to EMDR for Autistics. I think you can find them through a search on the EMDRIA site!

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