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Counseling Approaches

Each therapist has a variety of approaches they can use to help with the specific issue a person brings to therapy.  The following are some approaches to therapy utilized by Therapy Today therapists.

Positive Psychology is a recent branch of psychology that focuses on a person’s strengths and positive human functioning.  The discipline has developed effective interventions to build thriving individuals, families, and communities.  Therapists using this approach seek to nurture a person’s individual talents and strengths to make normal life more fulfilling instead of focusing on painful symptoms of mental illness.  The positive psychologist helps you understand the adaptive, creative, and emotionally fulfilling aspects of human behavior, specifically those aspects in you, and helps you utilize those more fully.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a more problem-focused approach which uses an mix of cognitive therapy  (changing your thoughts)  and behavior therapy (taking actions) to identify strategies to change problematic thought patterns and take specific actions to address the problem brought to therapy, as in anxiety or depression.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a mindfulness and skills based approach which was originally designed to specifically treat extremes of emotion, thought, and behavior and has been found to be helpful with a number of psychiatric disorders.  This approach emphasizes mindfulness to increase awareness and ability to change behaviors and reduce suffering.  It also includes a program of concrete and specific skills a person can learn to live a happy and effective life.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is an approach based on research that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies with commitment and behavior change strategies to increase psychological flexibility and to improve quality of life.  This approach helps you get in touch with a transcendent sense of self known as self-as-context – the you that is always there observing and experiencing and yet distinct from your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and memories.  ACT focuses on clarifying your personal values and take action on them, bringing more vitality and meaning to your life.

Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy, ISTDP is an approach with the primary goal of helping you overcome internal resistance to experiencing true feelings about the present and past which have been avoided or pushed away because they are either too frightening or too painful.  The technique is intensive in that it aims to help you experience these feelings in the maximum degree possible; it is short-term in that it tries to achieve this experience as quickly as possible; it is dynamic in that it involves working with the unconscious and with transference.  This approach helps with interpersonal difficulties, anxiety, and depression but also addresses unexplained medical symptoms such as headache, shortness of breath, diarrhea, or sudden weakness.  In this model such symptoms occur in distressing situations where painful or forbidden emotions are triggered outside of awareness.

Life Coaching is an approach involving an experienced therapist helping you honestly asses your life, set your goals and formulate the plan to get from where you are to where you want to be. Life coaching includes raising awareness of the now and taking responsibility for designing and living your life.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy is an approach that employs both cognitive and mindfulness strategies.  The goal of MBCT is to interrupt automatic thought processes and teach the participants to focus less on reacting to incoming stimuli, and instead working to accept and observe them without judgment. This mindfulness practice allows you to notice when automatic processes are occurring and to alter your reaction to be more of a reflection.  The focus is on becoming aware of all incoming thoughts and feelings and accepting them, but not attaching or reacting to them.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is an approach that was developed specifically to treat PTSD.  It views disturbing memories as the cause of psychopathology and alleviates the symptoms of PTSD. This approach uses the body’s own processing in utilizing the same eye movements seen in REM sleep to help the brain to process through a trauma that has become frozen in time in the brain.   Traumatic experiences can overwhelm the normal neurocognitive processing and coping skills of a person.

Emotional Freedom Technique is a form of counseling intervention that draws on various theories of alternative medicine that falls under the approach known as energy psychology.  The technique is used to treat a wide variety of issues.  Once learned this is a technique you can use on your own for relief from emotional suffering.

Internal Family Systems is an approach to individual therapy that combines systems thinking with the view that mind is made up of relatively discrete sub-personalities each with its own viewpoint and qualities. IFS uses family systems theory to understand how these collections of sub-personalities work together and against one another to help you integrate them and function well emotionally.

Imago Relationship Therapy is an approach to couple therapy that takes a relationship approach rather than an individual approach to problem solving in a marriage.  The focus is on what works for the relationship vs. what each individual needs to change.  It involves practicing good communication, gaining deeper understanding of each other with each interchange.

Group Therapy is a form of therapy that can be especially helpful in a number of ways.  When there is a specific topic that can be discussed in a group as in “healthy relationships”, or “anxiety”, the input of others who struggle with the same issues is very helpful.  When one is part of a therapy group there are more opportunities to learn about oneself in relation to others than what is possible in individual therapy.

Brief Solution-Focused Therapy is an approach that focuses specifically on strengths to produce desired outcomes guided by solutions rather than being focused on problems.

Sand-Tray Therapy is an approach that can be used effectively with children and adults to access a deeper understanding of issues by working with your unconscious mind and allowing yourself to work through issues symbolically.

Play Therapy is a therapeutic approach used with children to engage with them in their most natural mode of communication – play. Play therapy provides a way for them to express their experiences and feelings through a natural, self-guided, self-healing process. As children’s experiences and knowledge are often communicated through play, it becomes an important vehicle for them to know and accept themselves and others.

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