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EMDR Therapy vs. Traditional Talk Therapy: Which Approach is Right for You?

Jul 25, 2023 | 0 comments


The information provided here is not intended to be a substitute for professional health and mental health care or consultation. Individuals who believe they may require or benefit from treatment should seek the advice of a psychologist or other licensed mental health professional.

Very Good Counseling is a private practice of licensed mental health therapists who specialize in EMDR.  We provide online mental health services to individuals throughout the State of Florida,  and in-person at our office in Fort Myers, FL. For more information, contact us.

by: <a href="" target="_blank">Elena Engle, LMHC-S, EMDRIA-approved EMDR Consultant</a>

by: Elena Engle, LMHC-S, EMDRIA-approved EMDR Consultant

Because We Believe You Matter

Elena founded Very Good Counseling in 2021. As a therapist, she finds that specializing in EMDR therapy elevates her abilities to help individuals with trauma, PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Passionate about freeing people from years of negative thoughts and destructive habits, Elena is committed to helping individuals find liberation from their past, embracing their truest selves.

“We may not be responsible for the world that created our minds, but we can take responsibility for the mind with which we create our world.” – Gabor Mate

Alternative Title: Decoding Therapy Approaches: EMDR Therapy vs. Traditional Talk Therapy – Which is the Right Path for You?

Therapy is an invaluable tool for addressing mental health concerns, offering support, and promoting personal growth. Two primary approaches, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and traditional talk therapy, offer individuals varied paths to delve into their inner worlds and find healing.

In this article, we will explore the principles and benefits of each method, guiding you in choosing the right therapy for your unique needs.

Understanding Traditional Talk Therapy

Traditional talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy or counseling, is grounded in verbal communication between the therapist and the client. This type of therapy provides a safe and confidential space for individuals to express and explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors (Karasu, 1986).

It encourages introspection, fosters emotional resilience, and helps identify patterns that may be contributing to mental health challenges (Lambert, 2013). Talk therapy has demonstrated efficacy in addressing a myriad of conditions, including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and relationship issues (Lambert, 2013).

Introducing EMDR Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a focused approach developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980s that specifically addresses the processing of traumatic memories and associated negative beliefs (Shapiro, 1989).

It utilizes bilateral stimulation techniques, like eye movements, hand taps, or sounds, to facilitate the reprocessing of distressing experiences. EMDR follows a structured eight-phase protocol, aiming to help individuals desensitize traumatic memories, reframe negative beliefs, and integrate the healing experience (Shapiro, 2014).

EMDR is particularly effective in treating conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, and panic disorders (Seidler & Wagner, 2006).

Comparing the Two Approaches

Both EMDR therapy and traditional talk therapy aim to improve mental well-being. However, their focus and techniques vary. Talk therapy emphasizes the exploration of thoughts, emotions, and experiences, providing an environment conducive to self-reflection and insight (Karasu, 1986).

Conversely, EMDR concentrates on processing and reprogramming traumatic memories and beliefs, with the objective of reducing distressing symptoms and fostering healing (Shapiro, 2014).

Choosing between these two approaches depends largely on individual needs and preferences. Talk therapy may offer a broader exploration of emotions and experiences for those dealing with general mental health concerns, while EMDR, with its targeted focus on trauma, can provide accelerated healing for those specifically grappling with trauma-related conditions.

Choosing the Right Approach

When determining the best therapy approach, consider these factors:

Nature of the mental health concern: Trauma-specific symptoms may warrant considering EMDR therapy. On the other hand, talk therapy can offer a broader exploration for general mental health concerns.

Treatment goals: If you aim to process and heal from traumatic experiences, EMDR therapy can provide focused and efficient treatment. If your goal is self-exploration, personal growth, or improved coping strategies, talk therapy may be a better fit.

Personal preferences: Reflect on your comfort level with different therapeutic techniques. Some individuals may prefer the structure of EMDR therapy, while others may resonate with the open dialogue offered in talk therapy.

An experienced therapist from Very Good Counseling, who specializes in both EMDR therapy and talk therapy, can provide invaluable guidance. They can assess your unique needs, discuss treatment options, and help you make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and preferences.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to therapy. Selecting the right approach requires considering individual needs, treatment goals, and personal preferences. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Very Good Counseling to start your journey of healing and personal growth. Therapy awaits, ready to support your journey.


Learn more


Karasu, T. B. (1986). The specificity versus nonspecificity dilemma: Toward identifying therapeutic change agents. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 143(6), 687–695. [Link]

Lambert, M. J. (2013). The efficacy and effectiveness of psychotherapy. In M. J. Lambert (Ed.), Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change (6th ed., pp. 169–218). Wiley. [Link]

Shapiro, F. (1989). Efficacy of the eye movement desensitization procedure in the treatment of traumatic memories. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2(2), 199–223. [Link]

Shapiro, F. (2014). The role of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy in medicine: Addressing the psychological and physical symptoms stemming from adverse life experiences. The Permanente Journal, 18(1), 71–77. [Link]

Seidler, G. H., & Wagner, F. E. (2006). Comparing the efficacy of EMDR and trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of PTSD: a meta-analytic study. Psychological Medicine, 36(11), 1515–1522. [Link]

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