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Apr 02, 2024

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART): A Comparative Analysis

  1. Approach to Trauma:
  • EMDR: Focuses on processing distressing memories and traumas through bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements).
  • CPT: Involves identifying and challenging maladaptive thoughts and beliefs related to traumatic experiences.
  • ART: Utilizes a combination of eye movements and guided imagery to facilitate the reprocessing of traumatic memories.
  1. Underlying Principles:
  • EMDR: Based on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model, emphasizing the brain's ability to heal itself when processing past experiences.
  • CPT: Grounded in cognitive theories, targeting cognitive distortions and helping individuals develop a more balanced understanding of their traumatic experiences.
  • ART: Integrates elements of existing therapeutic approaches, focusing on promoting resolution and resilience through rapid eye movements.
  1. Bilateral Stimulation:
  • EMDR: Centrally incorporates bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements) to facilitate the processing of traumatic memories.
  • CPT: Does not involve bilateral stimulation but relies on cognitive restructuring and written accounts of traumatic experiences.
  • ART: Utilizes eye movements along with other techniques to rapidly process and desensitize traumatic memories.
  1. Session Structure:
  • EMDR: Structured in eight phases, involving history-taking, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and reevaluation.
  • CPT: Typically involves 12 weekly sessions, incorporating cognitive restructuring and written exposure to traumatic memories.
  • ART: Sessions are often briefer, with a focus on rapid resolution of traumatic memories using a combination of techniques.
  1. Evidence Base:
  • EMDR: Extensive research supports its efficacy in treating PTSD and trauma-related disorders.
  • CPT: Also supported by research, demonstrating effectiveness in addressing PTSD and trauma.
  • ART: While newer, preliminary studies suggest promising outcomes, further research is needed to establish its evidence base.
  1. Integration of Trauma Processing:
  • EMDR: Emphasizes the integration of traumatic memories into adaptive networks, promoting desensitization and reprocessing.
  • CPT: Focuses on the cognitive restructuring of maladaptive beliefs related to trauma, promoting a more balanced cognitive perspective.
  • ART: Aims to rapidly resolve trauma by integrating positive imagery and facilitating resolution.
  1. Application and Populations:
  • EMDR: Widely used for various trauma-related conditions, including PTSD, anxiety, and phobias.
  • CPT: Primarily used for PTSD, with applications in treating a range of trauma-related disorders.
  • ART: Relatively newer, with applications in treating PTSD and trauma; its versatility is still being explored.

In summary, while EMDR, CPT, and ART share the common goal of treating trauma-related conditions, they differ in their therapeutic approaches, underlying principles, and techniques. The choice between these therapies may depend on the individual's preferences, the nature of the trauma, and the therapist's expertise. Each approach has demonstrated efficacy, and the selection should align with the client's needs and therapeutic goals.


Couch, K. ( 2024, April 2). EMDR vs CPT vs ART [Blog Post]. Rewired360. Retrieved from

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