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CBT vs. EMDR: Which therapy is best for you?

“You have considerable power to construct self-helping thoughts, feelings and actions as well as to construct self-defeating behaviors” ― Albert Ellis.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) are two very popular forms of therapy and many people are confused about these two approaches and ask questions like which is the best therapy approach?  Firstly, these two are evidence-based treatments and several types of research have proved that they are very effective for many mental health issues. In this blog,  we will dive deeper on the topic of  CBT vs. EMDR so that you have a better idea.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy aka CBT?

As mentioned, Cognitive behavioral therapy is a well-known talk therapy and it majorly focuses on three main key areas: thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The idea behind therapy is how negative thought patterns and beliefs can lead to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. People can opt for CBT therapy in person and CBT online.

The behavioral therapist will aim to identify and change these thought patterns and help individuals develop more positive ways of thinking with a clearer and bias-free approach.  All in all, CBT is quite structured, mostly has a fixed time frame and contains homework. 

CBT Techniques:
  • Journaling
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Relaxed breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
What is EMDR?

“EMDR puts memories where they belong- in the past- Unknown”

For the unversed, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) integrates the mind, body and spirit. It also strengthens our emotional and internal belief systems by breaking away from negative feelings and opening the door for positive emotions and insights, leading to healthy relationships, mood and self-perspective.

 For some, traumatic experiences and memories can get “stuck” in the brain and the same can lead to emotional distress. To alleviate the signs of poor mental health such as PTSD and others one can go for either EMDR in person or EMDR online. 

Psychologists and psychotherapists opt for this approach for several concerns such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, sleep and mood disorders among others. 

During the EMDR treatment, therapists help to process the memories and with the use of bilateral stimulation (eye movements, taps and sound), help to desensitize the body and mind so that the person moves on and starts to live in the present. Usually, there are 8 phases which include history, planning of treatment, desensitization and assessment, among others.

Which therapy is best for you?

Both CBT and EMDR are highly effective and the best one for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. The following are the factors that are considered when deciding between CBT vs. EMDR:

Type of issue: While both therapies can be used to treat a wide range of mental health issues, the selection is mostly done on the basis of needs. 

Preference: CBT includes traditional talk therapy, while EMDR also involves physical movement. Some people may prefer the more structured and talk-focused approach of CBT, while therapists, depending on their needs, may prefer the more experiential approach of EMDR.

Availability of trained therapists: CBT and EMDR  both are specialized forms of therapy, and not all therapists are trained in them. If you are interested in either CBT or EMDR, you may need to search for a therapist who has been specifically trained.

Overall, both of these are effective forms of therapy. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health issues, talking to a therapist can be a great first step. By considering your individual needs and preferences, you can determine whether CBT, EMDR or another type of therapy may be best for you.

If you or someone wants to know further about CBT and EMDR and other therapy approaches, then you can seek help here at Scarborough Psychology Clinic. We provide CBT, EMDR and other therapies. Click here to book an appointment no