EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) are two different forms of psychotherapy that are used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that was developed specifically to help people who have experienced trauma. It is based on the idea that when a person experiences trauma, their brain doesn't process the event correctly, and the traumatic memory becomes "stuck" in their mind. During EMDR therapy, the person is asked to focus on the traumatic memory while performing a specific type of eye movement, which is thought to help the brain process the memory and relieve the associated distress.

CBT, on the other hand, is a form of psychotherapy that is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all interconnected. CBT focuses on helping people identify and change negative or irrational thoughts and beliefs that may be contributing to their mental health problems. By changing their thoughts and beliefs, people can improve their mood and reduce their symptoms.


EMDR and CBT differ in many ways:

  1. Focus: CBT focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to mental health problems, while EMDR focuses on processing past traumatic events to alleviate emotional distress.
  2. Techniques: CBT uses techniques such as cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and behavioral activation to help clients identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. EMDR, on the other hand, uses techniques such as eye movements, hand tapping, or auditory tones to facilitate the processing of traumatic memories.
  3. Timeframe: CBT is typically a shorter-term treatment, ranging from a few weeks to several months, while EMDR can be either short-term or long-term depending on the client's needs and the severity of the trauma.
  4. Evidence base: Both CBT and EMDR have strong evidence bases for treating various mental health disorders. However, CBT has a longer history of research and a wider range of applications, while EMDR's research has primarily focused on trauma-related disorders.
  5. Therapeutic relationship: Both therapies involve a therapeutic relationship between the therapist and client. However, the therapist's role in EMDR is more passive, allowing the client's mind to process the trauma, while in CBT, the therapist is more active in teaching coping skills and helping clients change their thought patterns and behaviors.

Both EMDR and CBT have been shown to be effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions, and the choice of which therapy to use often depends on the individual's specific needs and preferences, as well as the experience and training of the therapist. It's also not uncommon for people to receive a combination of both EMDR and CBT, as they can complement each other and provide a more comprehensive treatment approach.