Emdr vs. Neurofeedback“Can you compare EMDR vs Neurofeedback? Which is better for you? “

Every couple of weeks, a new client asks me this question. Many of the patients who are referred to me are fairly educated about trauma therapy treatment options. They have heard or read about the effectiveness of both EMDR and Neurofeedback. But they are not sure which might be the best treatment approach for them.

Below are some of my thoughts.  I hope that they can help guide you in reflecting on this.

EMDR vs. Neurofeedback- Some Contemplation Questions For You


  1. How much do you want to, or need to, talk? Some neurofeedback clients love that a good chunk of our work together is non verbal. But that is not true of everyone. Sometimes, clients tell me that they need to, or want to talk more. EMDR sessions tend to contain more talking, but we structure the talking by following the EMDR session treatment protocol.
  2. How easy is it for you to calm yourself?  Some of the clients I have worked with made an enormous effort to regulate their emotions. Outside of therapy sessions, they exercised and meditated. They did therapy homework. But they still struggled to feel calm balanced and centered.  Most of those clients turned a corner in their lives with neurofeedback training. With some, we began with a period of neurofeedback training and shifted into EMDR once their nervous systems were calm enough for the memory and emotional processing of EMDR therapy.
  3. Do you also have problems with sleep? Sleep is an excellent window in the functioning of your nervous system. Our brains and nervous systems require sleep to heal and rejuvenate. Sleep is also the time when our brains consolidate learning. That is when new information moves from short term memory into long term memory. Most neurofeedback clients find that their sleep quality improves markedly over the course of our work. Generally they sleep deeper, they fall asleep easier and they stay asleep for more of the night.
  4. Do you suffer with physical health problems? EMDR can be helpful for both pain management and pain relief. It can also be helpful for headaches. In fact, I’m trained in both of those advanced EMDR applications. But if you have other physical ailments too, you should consider neurofeedback. Many of my C-PTSD (complex ptsd) clients have a range of physical issues which include symptoms like GI problems, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, etc. Neurofeedback has been much more helpful to them than EMDR.
  5. What is the nature of your trauma? Have you suffered from a single incident trauma? When considering EMDR vs Neurofeedback, hands down I’ve seen EMDR therapy work better for that. But if you have developmental trauma, or Complex PTSD (C-PTSD) then it’s probably a better bet to consider neurofeedback training.


Emdr and/or Neurofeedback- A Few More Considerations

All trauma treatment modalities work in the hands of a skilled trauma specialist. So when considering Emdr vs Neurofeedback don’t get over-focused on the treatment modality. Therapy modality can make a difference, but generally it’s not the biggest factor. EMDR can be used to treat other conditions besides trauma, and so can neurofeedback.

There is no quick fix-usually. Hundreds of T.V. commercials will imply that you can pop a pill which will magically cure you of your bad feelings. Many of us fall prey to the allure of the promise of a drug that will work instantly and require little. Magazine articles sensationalize “innovative” trauma treatment modalities such as EMDR and Neurofeedback. While EMDR and Neurofeedback can, and often do produce astounding results, they aren’t miracle cures. While I have seen many astounding transformations, with both EMDR and neurofeedback, usually those take a while.

Remember, therapy of any kind is more effective when you have a good base in your life. If your external life is chaotic, or filled with fires that you must put out, that is going to slow down any therapeutic progress. One of my clients refers to his base as “his landing platform”. It’s his steady predictable, calm day to day life that allows him to manage career and relationship ups and downs- while doing his in- depth healing work

Maybe you have your own questions about EMDR vs Neurofeedback. If so, I would be happy to speak with you. If you would like to know more about my approach to Trauma and PTSD Therapy, please contact me or click on the link. You can learn more about my approach to Neurofeedback here, and learn more about my work with EMDR here.