Superiority of EMDR in PTSD Treatment

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George Washington University
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Individuals exposed to traumatic events encounter series of mental and psychological disorder with the common one being Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It occurs in the form of a psychiatric consequence as a result of exposure to events that ranges from mild situations such as nightmares and distressing memories to catastrophic and exceptionally threatening events. As a severe and serious mental health problem, it requires timely and efficient interventions. In the contemporary society, there are numerous events such as environmental toxins and extreme climatic conditions, terrorism and extended combat. Furthermore, posttraumatic stress disorder is expected to be a universal concept in the coming decade due to the prediction that PTSD patients will rise. Since PTSD poses severe mental health disorders, there has been the widespread development of theoretical models and novel paradigms for deepening the comprehension of different treatment interventions. The common first-line intervention strategies for alleviating PSTD and associated symptoms include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Many researchers in the recent past have conducted studies to ascertain the efficiency and superiority between CBT and EMDR in solving PSTD and related problems. Most studies such as research by Seidler and Wagner conclude that there is no superior PSTD strategy between CBT and EMDR (16). From that study, the primary finding was that CBT and EMDR are equally superior and efficient in PTSD treatment. However, I disagree with the study's conclusion and the common misconception that CBT is more superior to EMDR because I think that EMDR is faster and more efficient and effective in PTSD alleviation than CBT.

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EMDR has a short history of application since it traces its conception to 1989 and it is for that reason that there has been confusion and little understanding of the concept. Despite the CBT efficacy that Seidler and Wagner highlight, some of the hidden aspects arise during the administration of cognitive behavioral therapies such as some people becoming uncomfortable with them or individual therapies like rational CBT which are unsuitable for certain people (8). Furthermore, in a study by Marcello, Hilton-Lerro, and Mueser, one of the findings is that there is the ineffectiveness of CBT in handling PTSD at severe and complicated stages. An example is the case of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse as they are among the groups of individual with difficulties in coping up (441). Chen, Zhang, Hu, and Liang give one of the CBT attributes that its primary focus is influencing clients to bring and adopt desirable behaviors to themselves (43). The responses from Triscari, Faraci, Catalisano, D'Angelo, and Urso research to test CBT efficacy indicate respondents' reactions are demeaning CBT by saying that the therapy ignores essential issues such as emotional issues, personal and family histories which are beneficial in the efficient PTSD treatment (2587). Secondly, Gaston says that CBT lacks a platform for examining emotions and personal explorations and there are no chances of discussing issues troubling patients from a wider perspective (12). For the effectiveness of CBT therapy, it is necessary to pass the clients through additional psychodynamic counseling for exhaustive addressing of the issues. It increases psychotherapy cost.

Chen, Zhang, and Liang support the superiority of EMDR over CBT in their meta-analysis study to ascertain the efficacy and superiority of CBT and EMDR among adult PTSD patients (43). The research is a meta-analysis of the past investigations done since the conception of the therapy in 1989 to 2013 published in Cochrane, PubMed, and Medline database. The researchers' target is 11 studies to locate random control trials that compare CBT and EMDR as two preferable first-line PTSD therapies. Despite the presence of methodological limitations in the studies, universal agreement among the 11 studies is that there is the slight superiority of EMDR over CBT (Chen, Zhang and Hu 48). The meta-analysis of the studies in cumulative reveal PTSD subscale scores which act as the indicators that when therapy should reduce the severity of arousal and decrease intrusion, it is recommendable to use EMDR because it has advantages which CBT cannot provide adequately. Therefore, the best therapy suitable for PTSD patients who have severe arousal and intrusion issues is EMDR.

The expectation for everyone who visits a psychotherapy rehab is the application of latest medicine and psychotherapy technology, and the EMDR treatment falls under the preferable therapy. Most of the top contemporary psychotherapy centers utilize EMDR hence serving as a reflection of the significance and effectiveness of the treatment in PTSD recovery. The primary aspect that makes EMDR superior is the fact that it has the basis of psychotherapy principle which believes that if therapy can relax and heal the mind, it can as well heal the body. EMDR treatment makes the brain to adapt to a different and new way of processing things, emotions and feelings hence enabling a PTSD patient to detach herself or himself from the old memories (Seidler and Wagner 11). EMDR has good brevity levels, and that attribute adds the concept of low-cost to its effectiveness. Therefore, EMDR has an added advantage of affordability in comparison to the traditional psychotherapies. Other than treating PTSD, EMDR is popular in treating symptoms related to posttraumatic stress illness and non-trauma-related issues, unlike cognitive therapies whose application is a narrow scope (Seidler and Wagner 14). The other context that supports the superiority of EMDR is its use in treating individuals with negative self-perceptions and low self-esteem which are the contemporary psychological issue sin many dysfunctional homes.

In a research conducted by Triscari, Faraci, Catalisano, D'Angelo and Urso, combining EMDR and CBT results in increased effectiveness, fast and efficient treatment of chronic PTSD (2590). From the research, it is evident that CBT on its own cannot deliver superior and operative therapy unless where there is the intervention of EMDR. Furthermore, EMDR Institute attributes the effectiveness of EMDR to its role in assisting individuals in recovering from trauma-related issues. It is effective because one of the most common coping mechanisms among patients with PTSD is avoidance (Marcello, Hilton-Lerro and Mueser 438). Furthermore, the efficacy and superiority of EMDR follow its advantage of in restoring positive future outlooks among PTSD patients which increase the possibilities of the patients feeling pleasure, establishing and maintaining emotional connections. Similarly, treatment of performance anxiety, emotional problems, and physical health problems are among the wide ranges of psychiatric disorders that EMDR solve. Patients' welfare is dependent on therapeutic effects maintenance. It is necessary to a therapeutic strategy to maintain therapeutic gains for a long time, and the results should not decrease over that period. EMDR has longer lasting therapeutic effects than CBT. The trials from Maxfield and Hyer's study show that the therapeutic effects and improvement of patients decay by a value of between 50% and 30% six months after initiating CBT therapy (439).

In summary, EMDR is superior in the treating PTSD at severe levels and provides fast relief with minimum side effects. The superiority of EMDR over CBT occur due to aspects that provide distinction among the two such as the ability to reduce all emotional distresses that have a relationship with memory and the capacity to produce behavioral changes that last for long. My recommendation is that PTSD therapeutic research in future should not emphasize on efficiency, effectiveness, and efficacy but should instead strive to emphasize on what every therapeutic method can benefit patients differently.

Works Cited

BIBLIOGRAPHY Chen, L., et al. "Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing versus cognitive-behavioral therapy for adult posttraumatic stress disorder: systematic review and meta-analysis." J Nerv Ment Dis (2015): 203(6):43-51. Print.

EMDR Institute. Comparison of EMDR. 2017. Web. <>.

Gaston, Louise. Limitations of TraumaFocused Therapies for Treating PTSD: A Perspective. Montreal: Montreal Publishers, 2015. Print.

Marcello, Stephanie C., Katie Hilton-Lerro and Kim T. Mueser. "Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Persons With Psychotic Disorders." Clinical Case Studies (2009): 8(6):438-453. Print.

Maxfield, L. and L.A. Hyer. "The relationship between efficacy and methodology in studies investigating EMDR treatment of PTSD." Journal of Clinical Psychology (2012): 58:23-41. Print.

Seidler, Guenter H. and Frank Wagner. "Comparing the efficacy of EMDR and trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of PTSD: a meta-analytic study." Psychological Medicine (2011): 38(1):1-17. Print.

Triscari, Maria Teresa, et al. "Effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy integrated with systematic desensitization, cognitive behavioral therapy combined with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy." Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment (2015): 11:25912598. Print.

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