top of page
  • Navneet Kaur

PTSD Treatments: Cognitive Processing Therapy, EMDR, and Brainspotting – Which One is Right for You?

Woman with Eyes - PTSD Treatments: Cognitive Processing Therapy, EMDR, and Brainspotting – Which One is Right for You? Safe Space Counseling in California

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can have a profound impact on individuals who have experienced traumatic events. The debilitating symptoms—such as flashbacks, anxiety, and hypervigilance—can disrupt daily life and well-being. Fortunately, several effective treatments are available to help individuals process trauma and regain control over their lives. Among these are Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Brainspotting. Learn more about each of these therapies, how they work, and provide guidance on choosing the right treatment for you.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy specifically designed to help individuals address and process the thoughts and feelings associated with trauma. Developed for treating PTSD, CPT focuses on changing maladaptive beliefs and thoughts related to the traumatic experience.

→ How It Works

CPT typically involves 12 sessions in which individuals work with a therapist to identify and challenge distorted beliefs related to their trauma. The therapy helps patients understand how trauma affects their thoughts and feelings and assists them in developing more balanced and accurate ways of thinking. Key components of CPT include:

  • Cognitive Restructuring: Patients learn to identify and question harmful thoughts, replacing them with more realistic and constructive ones.

  • Trauma Narratives: Patients may write about their traumatic experiences to process the emotions associated with the event.

  • Homework Assignments: Patients practice skills learned in therapy to reinforce new ways of thinking outside of sessions.

→ Who It’s For

CPT is particularly effective for individuals who struggle with negative beliefs and distorted thinking patterns related to their trauma. It is beneficial for those who prefer a structured, cognitive approach to therapy and are comfortable with introspection and written exercises.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy approach designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. Developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, EMDR integrates elements from various therapeutic approaches and uses bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, to process traumatic memories.

→ How It Works

EMDR involves eight phases, including history-taking, preparation, assessment, desensitization, installation, body scan, closure, and reevaluation. During the desensitization phase, the therapist asks the patient to focus on a traumatic memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation, such as guided eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones. This process helps reprocess the traumatic memory, reducing its emotional charge and allowing for adaptive resolution. Key components of EMDR include:

  • Targeting Traumatic Memories: EMDR targets specific memories that cause distress.

  • Bilateral Stimulation: This method helps process memories and integrate them into the patient’s adaptive memory network.

  • Adaptive Resolution: The goal is to reduce the distress associated with traumatic memories and develop more adaptive beliefs.

→ Who It’s For

EMDR is effective for individuals with PTSD and other trauma-related disorders. It is suitable for those who may not want to discuss their trauma in detail but are open to experiential and sensory-based therapy. It is particularly helpful for those with specific traumatic memories that remain distressing despite other therapeutic interventions.


Brainspotting is a relatively new therapy developed by Dr. David Grand, designed to access and process trauma stored in the brain. It involves using the visual field to locate “brainspots,” or eye positions that correlate with areas of unprocessed trauma.

→ How It Works

During a Brainspotting session, the therapist helps the patient identify a brainspot by guiding their eye movements to locate points in the visual field that trigger a somatic or emotional response. The patient then focuses on the brainspot while processing the associated feelings and memories. This process is thought to tap into the brain's natural ability to heal and integrate traumatic experiences. Key components of Brainspotting include:

  • Brainspots: Identifying eye positions that correlate with unprocessed trauma.

  • Focused Processing: The patient maintains focus on the brainspot to facilitate processing.

  • Therapeutic Presence: The therapist provides support and maintains a calm and grounded presence to help the patient feel safe.

→ Who It’s For

Brainspotting is beneficial for individuals who prefer a non-verbal, experiential approach to trauma therapy. It is effective for those who have difficulty articulating their trauma or who may feel overwhelmed by traditional talk therapy. It can also be used to address a wide range of psychological issues beyond PTSD.

Choosing the Right Therapy for You

Deciding which PTSD treatment is right for you depends on your personal preferences, the nature of your trauma, and your therapy goals. Here are some considerations to help you choose:

  1. Comfort with Introspection: If you prefer a cognitive approach and are comfortable examining and challenging your thoughts, CPT may be a good fit.

  2. Specific Traumatic Memories: If you have specific distressing memories and are open to sensory-based therapy, EMDR might be suitable.

  3. Non-Verbal Processing: If you prefer a non-verbal, experiential approach and have difficulty with traditional talk therapy, Brainspotting could be beneficial.


Each of these therapies—CPT, EMDR, and Brainspotting—offers unique approaches to treating PTSD and other trauma-related conditions. By understanding how each therapy works and considering your own preferences and needs, you can make an informed decision about the best treatment for you. Remember, seeking therapy is a courageous step towards healing, and the right approach can help you regain control over your life and well-being.

At Safe Space Counseling, we understand that choosing the right treatment for PTSD can be overwhelming. Our experienced therapists are here to help you navigate this decision by providing a personalized consultation to discuss your specific needs and treatment goals.

Book a free consultation and we can explore the different therapeutic options available to help you determine which approach aligns best with your preferences and experiences.

Our goal is to create a supportive environment where you can openly discuss your concerns and receive expert guidance on the most effective path to healing.

save to Pinterest

PTSD Treatments: Cognitive Processing Therapy, EMDR, and Brainspotting – Which One is Right for You?

3 views0 comments


bottom of page