If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health or simply encountered a period of your life where you could use a little extra support, you’re not alone. There’s an array of therapeutic strategies out there to help guide you on your journey of recovery or betterment.
This article will spotlight two ways to navigate your mental health: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). These two therapies are often recommended by skilled psychiatrists, therapists, or counselors and are designed to help you improve your mental health.
Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is an approach that’s been in psychiatry since the 1960s. It asserts that our habitual negative thought patterns often lead to psychological issues.
Here’s how it works: Imagine you’re dancing and keep tripping on the same step — like thinking, “I’ll never be able to do this!” every time you miss a beat. CBT helps you recognize that faulty step and shows you how to replace it with a more constructive one. Such as replacing your negative thoughts with something constructive. “I’m still learning, and that’s okay!”
Instead of tripping over and over again, you learn a new dance move. While CBT sounds like a dream, it does have a few moves that might seem difficult to master. Its effectiveness relies heavily on you. It takes a strong commitment to practice and adopt these new thought patterns and habits. Plus, it might seem tough to face those negative thoughts head-on.
On the other hand, the benefits of CBT are worth the effort. It’s been shown to be highly effective for a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even eating disorders.
Understanding Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing (EMDR)
Introduced in the late 1980s, EMDR is a newer and thus slightly more unconventional type of therapy, but that doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. Instead of focusing on changing thought patterns, EMDR uses eye movements to help you process and alleviate psychological stress.
In EMDR, the therapist guides you to recall distressing memories while generating side-to-side eye movements. This process can make those painful memories feel less overwhelming. You’re essentially re-mapping any emotional reactions or triggers from the past so that they cause you less distress in the future.
EDMR is a relatively intense therapy, and those distressing memories could be a little too challenging for some people to confront head-on. That said, the benefits of EMDR can be pretty amazing. It’s been used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and phobias. Plus, it can be quicker than other types of therapy, with some patients showing improvement in a few sessions.
Comparing CBT And EMDR: How To Choose What’s Best For You
In terms of duration, EMDR can be a little faster to show noticeable results. Conversely, CBT is more of a long-term commitment to lifestyle change than anything else. EMDR typically requires fewer sessions than CBT. However, everyone learns at their own pace.
When we consider effectiveness, both therapies have their own highlights. CBT has a broad range of effectiveness and can be used to address a wide range of mental health concerns, from the minor to the major. On the other hand, EMDR often shines brightest when dealing with trauma-related disorders.
Accessibility might be your tie-breaker. CBT has been around longer, and more psychiatrists are familiar with it. EMDR is a little more niche, although it’s growing in popularity, so may not be as widely available.
But the most important thing to consider when choosing which type of therapy is best for you is simply your preference. There’s nothing wrong with trying out both types of therapy to begin with and seeing which one feels more beneficial to you. It’s common to feel pressure to stick with one therapist or psychiatrist after you’ve had a session, but in reality, finding a doctor is a lot like dating.
You’re allowed to say no to a second date, whether you have a concrete reason or you’re just not feeling it. But while finding a therapist may feel a little like dating, don’t forget that it isn’t dating. You don’t have any responsibility for your therapist’s feelings when it comes to who you’re seeing, and no doctor or psychiatrist will ever make you feel guilty for pursuing a different type of treatment that seems to be working for you.
The Choice Is Yours
Choosing the right therapy is crucial in your journey toward better mental health. Both CBT and EMDR have their unique qualities, both positive and potentially negative, depending on your needs and preferences.
And if neither feels like a match? Don’t worry — there are plenty of other options available to you. What matters is that you keep talking and seeking help, even if your first appointment isn’t a perfect match.