EMDR VS Other treatments the Difference

Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing event that can profoundly impact an individual’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Traumatic events can include physical or sexual abuse, natural disasters, car accidents, acts of terrorism, combat, and other life-threatening experiences.

Several treatment options are available for people who have experienced trauma, including EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), therapy and counseling, medications, and alternative therapies. It’s important to note that not all treatments will work for all individuals, so trying a few different options may be necessary to find the most effective one.

In this article, we will explore all you need to know about EMDR, including the differences between EMDR therapy and other trauma therapies.

What is EMDR

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a specific therapy used to treat traumatic memories and the symptoms associated with them, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The treatment was developed by Francine Shapiro in the 1980s and has since been researched extensively and found to be effective for a wide range of traumas.

EMDR therapy involves having the patient focus on a traumatic memory while the therapist guides them through a series of bilateral stimulations, such as eye movements, taps, or sounds. The idea behind this is that the bilateral stimulation will help the patient process the traumatic memory in a more adaptive way, leading to a reduction in symptoms.

Differences Between EMDR and Other Trauma Therapies 

Other types of therapy are also used to treat trauma and its associated symptoms, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), prolonged exposure therapy (PE), and cognitive processing therapy (CPT). 

These therapies work in different ways, but they all aim to help patients gain insight into their traumatic experiences and develop coping strategies to manage their symptoms. Here are some of the main differences between EMDR and other trauma therapies:

  • Focus: EMDR therapy is focused on desensitizing a specific traumatic memory, while other therapies focus on identifying the underlying thoughts, beliefs, and emotions associated with the traumatic experience and helping the person find new ways to cope with it.
  • Techniques: EMDR therapy involves a specific set of techniques, such as bilateral stimulation (such as eye movements, taps, or sounds), that are used to help the patient process the traumatic memory in a more adaptive way. Other therapies focus on techniques such as cognitive restructuring, exposure therapy, and coping skills training.
  • Theoretical background: EMDR therapy is grounded in the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, which posits that trauma-related memories can become locked in an unprocessed state and that EMDR helps to unlock these memories and process them. Other therapies are based on theoretical models, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, humanistic, and psychoanalytic therapy.
  • Virtual delivery: EMDR therapy can be delivered in a virtual format, which can be cost-effective and offer more privacy as it eliminates the need for travel and allows people to receive treatment from the comfort of their own home. This can be a good alternative for people who prefer or have a preference for virtual therapy.
  • Target population: EMDR therapy is widely used to treat PTSD and other trauma-related disorders, but it has been used successfully with various populations, including children, adolescents, and adults. Other therapies are often tailored toward specific populations.
  • Cost: The cost of therapy varies depending on the therapist, location, and type of therapy. Generally, EMDR therapy is considered to be more expensive than other forms of therapy. However, this cost will vary greatly depending on the location, the therapist’s experience, and the level of coverage provided by the insurance.


EMDR therapy online and other trauma therapies are all effective treatments for trauma. However, they differ in how they approach the issue and how they are delivered. It’s important to remember that healing from trauma is a process, and it takes time, patience, and a sound support system to go through it. 

With the right help and support, most people can overcome trauma’s effects and lead fulfilling lives. It’s essential to work with a qualified therapist or counselor trained in multiple modalities of therapy to determine the most appropriate treatment for a specific individual.

What to read next

Can EMDR be Done Virtually Online?

The field of therapy has experienced a significant shift towards digital platforms, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is no exception. Traditionally conducted