Are you curious about the difference between CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and EMDR Therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)? At CARE Counseling Services, we specialize in EMDR Therapy. However, we often get clients asking for CBT because it’s one of the most well-known and researched therapies available for the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression and trauma. Doctors and therapists have been using CBT to treat mental health issues since the early 1900s! While it can be helpful, there have been significant developments in mental health care treatment and there are much more efficient ways to approach treating mental health struggles.
Before I tell you why EMDR is so much better, I want you to know how incredibly amazing it feels when I witness clients transform their lives into empowered and happy beings, right before my eyes. These transformations happen all the time at CARE! These successes make me want to climb to the highest mountain and scream to the world, “EVERYONE GET EMDR THERAPY, NOW! I know the world would be a happier place if everyone could experience this life-changing therapy.
CBT THERAPY VS EMDR THERAPY
Here’s a very brief overview of the two therapies to help you understand the similarities and differences:
According to www.apa.org, CBT is a form of psychological treatment guided by the following core principles:
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
- People suffering from psychological problems can learn better coping methods, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.
CBT core principles 1 and 2 are essentially the same as what we, as EMDR therapists, believe. Even a seasoned EMDR therapist would agree that dysfunctional thinking patterns contribute to most mental health struggles. However, core principle 3 is where the roads diverge. Let me explain.
CBT aims to teach clients a core set of coping skills, including reframing negative thought patterns, exposure therapy, teaching relaxation techniques, and completing homework assignments. I agree that coping skills are essential to surviving life, but they are not a means to an end when treating mental health. When clients are trying to overcome significant mental health challenges, telling them in not so many words, “sorry, you have to learn to live with your symptoms,” often leaves clients feeling hopeless. Nobody wants to get stuck coping their whole life. Furthermore, coping skills will never permanently relieve symptoms; they are more like band-aids, in my opinion.
EMDR THERAPY IS BETTER!
On the other hand, the goal of EMDR therapy is to alleviate mental health symptoms entirely. EMDR therapists can help clients accomplish this by treating the source of the symptoms. For example, you can compare this to treating a severely broken bone with surgery verse pain medication. EMDR would be surgery, and CBT would be the pain medication. This therapy is so effective our average client only requires seven sessions. The best part about being symptom-free is no more exhausting coping mechanisms and no need for years of therapy. Many can even get off of medication!
Treating the root of your mental health symptoms will likely require some hard work. But, I promise it won’t feel nearly as hard as living with agonizing mental health struggles for the rest of your life. To prepare for the work ahead, we often spend a session ensuring our clients have skills to help them cope during the process. Then we begin identifying current triggers and negative thought patterns. Next, we assist our clients in identifying the earliest age at which they may have had similar thoughts or feelings. Finally, after highlighting adverse and stressful life events surrounding those periods, real work with EMDR can begin. At this point, most clients have made some meaningful connections. Knowing “why” they have these thoughts and feelings can sometimes feel relieving.
The reprocessing (R) phase of EMDR helps our clients revisit, rework, and transform old disturbing memories, so they no longer have the same negative impact on us. Memories become just memories, and the negative beliefs that were once associated with them naturally get replaced with positive ones. As a result, our clients begin to feel more empowered and confident. EMDR therapy almost always provides an efficient and effective way to improve symptoms drastically.
If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health issues or has been in therapy for a long-time with not enough improvement, try EMDR Therapy. You can also get EMDR in addition to your regular talk therapy. The two complement each other very well!
To learn more about EMDR Therapy, visit:
Wishing you happiness and prosperity!