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The Benefits of Alternative Therapies

The Third Wave of CBTCognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most commonly used therapy practices in the United States. CBT, unlike psychoanalysis, takes a more direct approach to specific goals the patient initially sets. This is a time-limited practice that benefits those with depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorders, and more. By identifying problematic thoughts and beliefs and balancing them with positive activities, the patient can learn how to overcome the obstacles their mind may exacerbate.1

CBT, while widely used, is usually for mild to moderate depression and may not work for everyone. According to the Mayo Clinic the average length of therapy ranges from ten to twenty sessions. But what happens if CBT does not significantly improve life? This article will take a look at two additional therapy practices that have been widely used by the U.S. and abroad.

Specifically designed for trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) works when a therapist leads a patient through a series of lateral eye movements while the patient focuses on traumatic memories. The goal is to reprocess these memories in an adaptive way — eliminating emotional distress and reducing physiological arousal. 

Francine Shapiro, PhD, discovered the effects of EMDR by understanding “dual awareness”. When engaging in bilateral stimulation with memory, the experience of feeling traumatized dissipates naturally. EMDR has been practiced in the United States for more than twenty years. In order to participate, the therapist must be fully trained as an EMDR clinician.

Group therapy is another type of therapy used for both trauma and depression. Some of the differences between individual therapy and group therapy are:

  • The therapist can understand how their patient interacts with others in a social environment.
  • Members of the group can mimic the progress of others to understand the specific choices one takes to feel better.
  • The more exposure to other people and ways of thinking can lead to the kind of growth an individualized therapy session cannot offer.
  • It is more affordable.

There are many different types of group therapy that focus on different aspects of one’s life. Anger management, addiction, family, and eating disorders are just some of the topics specific groups can focus on. No matter the topic of group therapy, each group has common benefits.

  • Group therapy provides hope for those in all different stages of their treatment. Since everyone is in a different spot, there is always something to gain from either leading or following.
  • Since everyone has their own wisdom, there are more suggestions and ideas on how to improve life than with only the therapist to guide a session.
  • When sharing pain with a group, a patient may feel more relieved.
  • Understanding how others see each other is a tool that can provide both feedback and reassurance.

Groups do not need to have many members in them to succeed. Often times they can be as small as three or four people. With the exception of twelve step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, groups will be led by a trained professional. Groups typically meet once or twice a week for one hour a session.

Deciding which type of therapy works for you is something you may want to discuss with your therapist upon your first appointment. It’s important to receive all the facts about which approach would best fit your needs. Some questions worth considering are:

  • Are you opposed to medication?
  • Do you need a more direct approach?
  • When sharing with a therapist, can you feel your feelings or do you intellectualize them?
  • How much time are you willing to devote?
  • How much money are you willing to invest?

Whatever approach you ultimately decide to use, effort and attitude greatly impact the success of treatment.


  1. Coffey, S. F., Banducci, A. N., & Vinci, C. (2015, November 01). Common Questions About Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Psychiatric Disorders. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from
The Benefits of Alternative Therapies

Rebecca Lee

Rebecca Lee lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. She has published with: Harvard, Adbusters, The Virginian Pilot etc. Her book, Object Relations, is due for publication in July.

APA Reference
Lee, R. (2018). The Benefits of Alternative Therapies. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Oct 2018 (Originally: 7 Nov 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Oct 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.