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Is EMDR the Only Way?

When it come to fads and social media we can clearly see trends that drive interest and curiosity in topics. The world of therapy is not immune to this. Over the years most of us can look back and see increased presence of certain diagnosis, medications, or treatment approaches.

So what is the current therapy model that is really peeking people's interest? Well, if you ask most therapists it's EMDR.

What is EMDR to begin with? Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is an approach is particularly effective for individuals who have experienced a single traumatic event, such as a car accident or assault. However many individuals will use EMDR to process multiple traumas, process negative conventions, or reduce anxiety trigger just to name a few. During an EMDR session, the client is guided through a series of eye movements (or bilateral sounds or tapping) while recalling the traumatic event. This helps to desensitize the patient to the traumatic memory and reduce associated anxiety.

Now most of us can agree that trauma can impact our lives in many different ways, from causing anxiety and depression to affecting our relationships and even physical health. But is EMDR the only approach to process trauma? Is it the best approach to process trauma? Is it just a new form of pop psychology?

EMDR is defiantly not the only way to approach trauma treatment. Which is a good thing because EMDR may note a good fit for everyone, you may not be able to find an EMDR provider that is a good fit for you, or you simply want to try a different approach. Here are a few other approaches to trauma:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most widely used and researched forms of psychotherapy for trauma. CBT helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that can result from trauma. Through CBT, patients learn to recognize their triggers and develop coping strategies to manage the distressing thoughts and emotions that can arise.

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is another form of psychotherapy that can be used to treat trauma. DBT is often used to help individuals who have experienced complex trauma, such as ongoing abuse or neglect. DBT focuses on building coping skills, improving emotional regulation, and developing a greater sense of self-awareness.

  • Psychodynamic therapy is an approach that focuses on exploring the unconscious thoughts and feelings that may be driving a patient’s behavior. This approach can be particularly useful for individuals who have experienced early childhood trauma, as it can help them gain insight into how their past experiences may be affecting their present behaviors and emotions.

  • Group therapy can also be a powerful tool for individuals who have experienced trauma. Group therapy provides a supportive environment where individuals can connect with others who have had similar experiences. Through sharing their stories and providing support to one another, patients can develop a greater sense of community and reduce feelings of isolation and shame.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an approach that helps individuals develop greater mindfulness and acceptance of their thoughts and emotions. This approach can be particularly useful for individuals who are struggling with feelings of guilt or shame related to their traumatic experiences. Through ACT, patients learn to identify and accept their emotions without judgment, which can help them develop greater resilience and coping skills.

One to the next big question. Is EMDR the best approach to trauma treatment?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to psychotherapy for trauma and no one form of therapy is viewed as "best". Each individual is unique and may respond differently to different forms of therapy. Additionally, some individuals may benefit from a combination of different approaches. In addition to traditional forms of psychotherapy, there are also a variety of complementary therapies that can be used to support individuals who have experienced trauma. For example, yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices can be particularly helpful in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Is EMDR the new pop psychology of the moment?

EMDR has gain popularity over the past few years and more and more therapists have become trained it the model. Several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of EMDR in reducing symptoms of PTSD and other anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder and phobias. For instance, a meta-analysis conducted by Bisson et al. (2013) found that EMDR was as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in reducing PTSD symptoms, and even more effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. Similarly, a randomized controlled trial by de Bont et al. (2013) found that EMDR was more effective than prolonged exposure therapy in reducing symptoms of PTSD.

Despite the growing body of evidence supporting the efficacy of EMDR, some researchers have called for more high-quality studies to confirm its effectiveness and to better understand how it works. Nevertheless, EMDR has been recognized as an evidence-based practice by several professional organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization.

Ultimately, the key to finding the right form of psychotherapy to address trauma is to work with a qualified mental health professional who can help you identify your unique needs and goals. Whether you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other symptoms related to trauma, there is help available. By seeking out the support and guidance of a trained professional, you can begin the journey towards healing and reclaiming your life.

Bisson, J. I., Roberts, N. P., Andrew, M., Cooper, R., & Lewis, C. (2013). Psychological therapies for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2013(12), CD003388.

de Bont, P. A., van den Berg, D. P., van der Vleugel, B. M., de Roos, C., de Jongh, A., & van Minnen, A. (2013). Prolonged exposure and EMDR for PTSD v. a PTSD waiting-list condition: Effects on symptoms of psychosis, depression and social functioning. Psychological Medicine, 43(10), 2121–2131.

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