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19 Different Types of Therapy [Complete Guide]

If you’re thinking about getting therapy, you’re not alone. But where to start? There seems to be an overwhelming amount of different types of therapy out there, with therapists confidently proclaiming their therapy type is best.

There are numerous therapeutic approaches available to individuals seeking support and guidance for their mental and emotional well-being. Each type of therapy offers its unique perspective and techniques, providing a range of options to address specific concerns and promote personal growth. In this overview, we will explore 20 different types of therapy, highlighting their core principles, techniques, and potential benefits, with the aim of helping individuals make informed choices about their therapeutic journey.

Jump to a Type of Therapy:

Note: We will be continuing to add more types of therapy to this list.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, is an approach to psychotherapy that stems from behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. With acceptance and commitment therapy, clients learn to accept their inner emotions caused by hardships, and commit to making the required changes in their behavior to move forward in their lives.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the goal “of ACT is not elimination or suppression of these experiences. Rather, ACT emphasizes pursuit of valued life areas and directions, such as intimate relationships, meaningful work, and personal growth, in the face of these painful experiences.” ACT is a clinically effective treatment that can help clients suffering from: Depression, anxiety, OCD, addictions, substance abuse, stress, psychosis, and more.

Clinicians can use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians with the appropriate tools to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process. 

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an empirically supported mindful psychotherapy approach. Clinicians use this approach to guide patients to focus on the present moment and accept their thoughts and feelings. By doing so, patients can develop the appropriate coping skills to combat negative emotions and free them from repetitive obsessive negative thoughts. There are six core processes that work together to apply psychological flexibility. They are divided into two groupings; Mindfulness and acceptance, and commitment and behavior change. Mindfulness and acceptance encompasses acceptance, defusion, contact with the present moment, and self as context. Commitment and behavior change encompasses awareness in the present moment, self as context, values, and committed action. Below we will outline the six core processes when using ACT:

Acceptance

Contrary to natural instinct, the acceptance core process requires the patient to approach past negative experiences and feelings head on. Doing so provides the patient opportunities to practice allowing these experiences to exist rather than continuing avoidance of the situation. 

Cognitive Defusion

The cognitive defusion core process attempts to alter thoughts and feelings associated with these experiences and feelings. ACT doesn’t attempt to limit the exposure to these negative experiences; the goal of this core process is to alleviate negative fixation. 

Awareness

The awareness core process equips patients with the tools to be aware of the present moment without feeling the need to try to predict or lead the experience to their desired outcome. Doing so will allow the patient to experience things more directly, allowing for more flexible behavior and affording the patient to perform actions more consistent with the values they hold.

Self as Context

Self as Context teaches the patient the idea that one’s “self” exists outside of the current experiences happening. This idea is particularly important because it allows the patient to be aware of an experience with personal attachment or investment in it, exemplifying acceptance and diffusion.

Values

The values core process sets standards and reasonable goals for the patient to work toward while working through these situations. It evaluates what is most important to the patient in terms of how they want their life experience to be. Establishing values are crucial as they will help drive the patient’s ability to stay committed to their actions, in turn increasing their overall well-being and health. Values can cover the following:

  • Health
  • Community/social connections
  • Parenting
  • Romantic interests
  • Career
  • Education
  • Spirituality
  • Religion
  • Family
  • Leisure

Action

In the action core process, clinicians and patients work together to further expound upon practices that fulfill previously realized values. Commitment to these actions will assist in achieving long term goals consistent with their values. By acknowledging how behaviors affect the patient, lasting and recognizable positive changes are able to occur.

How Does ACT Work?

The length of time ACT takes ranges from 8 to 16 sessions depending on the individual’s treatment plan and progress. The clinician and patient collaborate throughout the process by setting the treatment plan, session agendas, goals, and commitment to mastering the application of skills ACT develops. This style of therapy requires the patient to play an active role through homework, active learning, and applying the skills learned in their everyday life. Upon the completion of each session the patient will leave with a clear plan and understanding of what to do between sessions. The conditions that ACT can be used for are the same as another popular form of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, their aim in their approach to retraining an individual’s thought process are on opposite spectrums. 

Which Conditions can ACT Treat?

Acceptance and commitment therapy can help treat a number of psychological disorders. Disorders such as

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Addiction/substance abuse

ACT is successful in treating disorders such as these due to its ability to develop psychological flexibility through behavioral therapy. By developing a commitment to enact positive behaviors patients are able to face their problems head on rather than avoiding them. These skills allow long term success for the individual suffering. 

How Effective is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

ACT is an empirically backed form of therapy. The main component of this therapy that makes it so successful is the emphasis of mindful acceptance. Upon completion of treatment individuals are able to accept their problems and cope with stress and anxiety better. In turn, this improves their overall health and well-being. Studies regarding ACT show that acceptance/commitment training yields positive long-term results when combating psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, OCD, trauma, and addiction/substance abuse. Patients are able to improve their mental health, day-to-day functioning, and overall quality of life.

Final Thoughts on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy is an empirically validated form of therapy that has extensive research behind it. Due to its heavy emphasis on accepting life, its problems, and emotions as is, its ability to treat psychological disorders that have the potential of wreaking havoc long-term for individuals is highly successful in the long run. If you find an individual that exemplifies the characteristics of the conditions listed above and a more traditional route of therapy, such as, CBT is not working, think of using ACT to treat them.

Resources:

Adlerian Therapy

Adlerian Therapy

Clinicians can use Adlerian Therapy (AT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the tools to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process.

What is Adlerian Therapy?

Developed by Alfred Adler, Adlerian therapy is a short, goal oriented, and humanistic psychotherapy style that focuses on a person’s ability to manage feelings of inferiority relative to those around them. Adlerian therapy aims to help develop their individual personality and become more accepting of perpetual interconnectedness of all humans with society. Born in Vienna, Austria in 1870, Alfred Adler began studying medicine and became an ophthalmologist 1895. After entering the realm of psychiatry, Adler would go on to become compelled by Sigmund Freud’s work in human behavior and concepts of psychoanalysis. Entering Freud’s early “Inner circle” in 1907, Adler was invited to join Freud’s discussion group, allowing him to be around what is considered to be the foundation of the psychoanalytic movement. Eventually separating from Freud and his closer followers due to differences in theoretical beliefs, Adler continued deeper into his study of the entire individual in relation to psychoanalysis which would establish the School of Individual Psychology.

How Does Adlerian Therapy Work?

Emphasizing a patient’s ability to manage feelings of inferiority in relation to others, Alder believed that patients would be more responsive to treatment when feeling encouraged, respected, and maintaining positive feelings of adequacy. Contraroly, those feeling discouraged or inadequate may form maladaptive behaviors that produce negative things like competition, defeat and withdrawal. Adler theorized that inferiority and inadequacy may stem from one’s birth order and social value within their family dynamic or presence of a physical limitation or poor social empathy. Adlerian therapy focuses sharply on belief and behavior patterns developed throughout adolescents. Adlerian theory states that self awareness and behaviors directly correlate with how one perceives themselves and their position within social structures ranging from their own family to larger society. Focusing on these patterns, clinicians aid patients in developing the tools needed to build a stronger self-esteem and meaning, building self worth and establishing self-rewarding changes. Clinicians provide patients the ability to better understand things that influence their lifestyle and choices by instilling new skills and behaviors. Usually spanning over less than 20 sessions, Adlerian therapy consists of 4 main stages:  

Engagement

The first stage of adlerian therapy is known as engagement in which clinicians establish a strong, trusting relationship. Throughout this stage clinicians work to create an encouraging partnership with patients. By working together, clinicians cultivate a symbiotic, collaborative effort to address challenging problems areas and processes within treatment.

Assessment

In the assessment stage of treatment, clinicians begin to learn more about the patient’s background and childhood experience. As Adlerian theory strongly focuses on birth order and early childhood, clinicians inquire about the patient’s family and personal history, beliefs, feelings and childhood memories. Clinicians are able to better understand and explain some less understood aspects of the patient’s lifestyle and thought processes.  

Insight

The third stage of Adlerian therapy clinician assists patients in further understanding why they do the things they do and think the way they think. Clinicians use various methods like questioning and adlerian therapy worksheets to achieve better understanding of events and feelings patients may have felt in the past that negatively affect them currently. 

Reorientation

The reorientation stage of this therapy style consists of clinician helping patients to cement new, more positive thoughts associated with the events, feelings, and beliefs that were explored during the insight phase. By establishing new ways of thinking of these situations, patients can derive more fruitful, positive feelings from them. With the use of active strategies that can be implemented throughout daily routines and recurring thoughts, clinicians are able to help encourage and reinforce the use of the patient’s newly developed tools.

While seen to be effective in its use alone, adlerian therapy or approaches are used in conjunction with many other types of therapy such as art therapy, children’s to adult therapy, individual, couples and family therapy.  

Conditions Adlerian Therapy Helps With

Adlerian therapy aims to treat those with poor self-image. With most patients reporting low self-evaluations, clinicians find that their patients are severely in need of encouraging, future-oriented counseling. Adlerian therapy has been noted in being an effective treatment for those suffering from:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Conduct disorders
  • Career issues
  • Low self-worth and self-esteem
  • schizophrenia 

How Effective is Adlerian Therapy?

With its origins dating back to the early 1900’s, Adlerian therapy and theory has been recognized widely as an effective treatment for a multitude of mental health issues and personality disorders. As Adlerian therapy and concepts in a multitude of different applications, many studies report improvement in patients’ aptitude for social adjustment. A recent study conducted in South Korea illuminates the effectiveness of Adlerian therapy in treating women suffering from a culture-bound syndrome which stems from the suppression and somatization of anger in South Korean culture known as Hwa-byung. Hwa-byung manifests itself with physical, psychological, and behavior symptoms like:

  • Breathlessness
  • Headache
  • digestive problems
  • Hate
  • Anxiety
  • Resentment
  • Depression
  • Behavioral impulses
  • Overeating
  • Drinking

The study showed that patients that received Adlerian therapy showed greater decreases in Hwa-byung symptoms than those that received others. The results of the study demonstrate significant change in severity of diagnosis for a large portion of the intervention group.

While Adlerian therapy is a well tested and used therapy style, it may not be suitable for some patients. For some patients, intensive exploration of troubling and traumatic childhood events can be more detrimental than beneficial. Some researchers also note that Adlerian therapy may require a level of insight that can be hard to achieve for patients suffering from more severe symptoms.

Final Thoughts on Adlerian Therapy

Created by Alfred Adler in the early 1900’s, Adlerian Therapy is a proven, effective evidence based therapy technique that aims to help patients identify things in their past that affect their lifestyle currently. Through guided reflection of their childhood experiences, beliefs, and feelings, clinicians are able to guide patients and improve self-worth and self-esteem in a supportive, encouraging, holistic environment.

Resources:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is used by mental health professionals worldwide for many disorders. CBT is a form of psychotherapy in which patients meet with their therapist to talk about their issues. Their therapists help guide them in becoming more aware of their negative thought processes and help them develop healthy coping mechanisms to better combat their negative thoughts and tackle their issues in a more coherent and effective way. It is the most preferred type of psychotherapy and can be used to treat a wide range of issues with fewer sessions.

CBT emphasizes an active partnership between the patient and the therapist, often involving homework outside of the sessions. In some cases, CBT is paired with medications to better support the treatment process. Due to CBT’s exploratory nature into the patient’s emotional well being, it can be uncomfortable at times. It forces the individual to face themselves and their problems head on, and for most people that thought can be extremely intimidating and painful. However with an open mindset, it is proven to be very effective and long lasting.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a type of psychotherapy that helps individuals learn how to identify and change destructive, painful, and unhelpful thought patterns that negatively influence their behavior and emotions.

CBT is widely used by mental health professionals for children, teenagers, and adults alike. CBT focuses on helping sufferers change automatic negative thoughts that can greatly contribute to and worsen anxiety, depression, and many other emotional difficulties. A sufferer’s mood can be greatly effected by negative automatic thoughts. With CBT, these negative automatic thoughts can be identified, challenged, and replaced with more objective, helpful thoughts.

CBT Techniques

CBT uses a wide range of strategies to help sufferers overcome negative thought patterns. Let’s review some of the most popular CBT techniques:

Identifying Negative Thoughts

CBT helps sufferers learn how their thoughts, feelings, and situations contribute to their unhelpful behaviors. By identifying negative thoughts, sufferers can discover insights about themselves that are essential in the treatment process.

Practicing New Skills

CBT teaches sufferers new skills that can be put to use in real-world situations to help them cope, deal with social situations, and more.

Goal-Setting

CBT teaches sufferers how to effectively set goals. Goal setting is an important part of the recovery process, and a trained CBT practitioner can help sufferers learn how to set short, long, and SMART goals to focus on the process and the end outcome.

Problem-Solving

Problem solving skills can help sufferers solve problems that arise from life stressors and to reduce the negative impact of psychological and physical illnesses.

Self-Monitoring

Self-monitoring is a CBT technique that teaches a sufferer to track behaviors, symptoms, or experiences over time via diary work. Self-monitoring helps a sufferer’s practitioner come up with the best possible treatment solution for their specific situation.

Conditions CBT Can Help With

CBT is often the preferred type of psychotherapy because it can help sufferers quickly identify and copy with their specific challenges. Let’s review some specific conditions CBT can help with:

  • Addiction Issues
  • ADHD
  • Anger
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Panic Attacks
  • Personality Disorders
  • Phobias

In addition to the above mental health conditions, CBT has been found helpful for coping with the following:

  • Chronic Pain
  • Divorce or Relationship Problems
  • Grief and Loss
  • Insomnia
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Paranoia
  • Serious Illnesses
  • Stress Management
  • Trauma

Final Thoughts on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In conclusion, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) offers a structured and evidence-based approach to therapy that can be highly effective in addressing a wide range of mental health concerns. With its focus on understanding the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, CBT empowers individuals to identify and challenge negative or unhelpful patterns of thinking and replace them with more adaptive thoughts and behaviors.

Choosing CBT therapy can be a valuable decision for those seeking practical tools and strategies to manage their emotions, overcome challenges, and foster positive change in their lives. Its collaborative nature encourages active participation and empowers individuals to develop skills that they can apply beyond the therapy session. Moreover, CBT is typically a time-limited therapy, which means that individuals may experience relatively quick results and see progress in a shorter time frame.

It’s important to remember that therapy is a personal journey, and what works for one person may not work for another. While CBT has a strong evidence base and has helped many individuals, it’s crucial to consider your unique needs, preferences, and therapeutic goals when choosing a therapy approach. It can be helpful to consult with a mental health professional who can assess your specific situation and guide you in making an informed decision.

Ultimately, the goal of therapy, including CBT, is to support your well-being and assist you in developing the skills and insights necessary for personal growth and a more fulfilling life.

Resources:

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)

Clinicians can use Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians with the appropriate tools to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process. Let’s review more about Cognitive Processing Therapy and how it can help your clients.

What is Cognitive Processing Therapy?

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a cognitive behavioral therapy that has been proven to be effective for reducing and treating symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It was developed in the late 1980’s by Duke University professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Patricia Resick. Her aim was to provide a clear pathway to combat symptoms of PTSD. Her approach has since been adopted by many organizations such as the American Psychological Association, the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The APA’s clinical Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of PTSD cites the use of CPT as well. 

How Does Cognitive Processing Therapy Work?

CPT is a short-term form of cognitive behavioral talk therapy. Typically the patient will complete the treatment plan within 12 sessions or less depending on the severity of their situation. CPT usually takes 12 weeks to complete containing 60-90 minute sessions. It requires the patient to engage in homework, so it is not recommended for individuals that struggle with literacy. Due to this, it is used to treat adults and some older adolescents. Furthermore, patients that struggle with comorbid bipolar disorder, substance abuse, and suicidal ideations may not be ideal candidates to undergo this form of treatment. Patients have to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in order to undergo this form of treatment. Patients that work in fields that anticipate continuous exposure to  traumatic events can benefit from this form of treatment. Career fields such as these include first responders, military personnel, photojournalists, healthcare professionals, and war correspondents. Due to prior traumatic experiences, patients tend to think very differently about themselves and their environment in the following areas:

  • Doubting their safety and ability to protect themselves.
  • Trusting intentions and judgment of others and themselves.
  • Feeling as if they can’t control their lives or affect the lives of important people around them.
  • Struggling with self-esteem, perceiving themselves as “damaged” or “broken.” 
  • Feeling unable to be understood or connect with others.  

In most settings a full treatment plan is conducted in the following order:

1. Overview of PTSD and CPT

Clinicians discuss PTSD, CPT, roles of emotion in trauma recovery, review index trauma, and assign practice assignments and problem solve.

2. Examining the Impact of Trauma

Patients examine connections among events, thoughts, and feelings. Upon completion clinicians distribute ABC worksheets and assign other practice assignments.

3. Working with Events, Thoughts and Feelings

After reviewing worksheets, clinicians explain correlations between thoughts and emotions and assist in realization that change and thoughts can change intensity of those emotions.

4. Examining the Index Event

Clinicians identify the context of trauma. Next, clinicians explain the difference between responsibility and blame. Clinicians then implement Challenging Questions worksheet and more practice assignments.

5. Challenging Questions Worksheet

Clinicians and patients begin by reviewing the Challenging Questions worksheet and introduce and explain Patterns of Problematic Thinking worksheet.

6. Problematic Thinking Worksheet

Clinicians then review patterns of problematic thinking and introduce and review Challenging Beliefs worksheet.

7. Challenging Beliefs Worksheet

Clinicians review worksheets then progress into an overview of the 5 particular problem areas that are Safety, Trust, Control, Esteem and Intimacy.

8. Processing Safety

Clinicians review Challenging Beliefs worksheets and practice responses related to Safety and provide further practice if necessary.

9. Processing Trust

After reviewing responses related to trust, clinicians aid patients in confronting problematic cognitions and use alternative beliefs to combat negative thoughts.

10. Processing Control

Clinicians then use responses given over the course of the treatment to address any anger management problems if present and help patients find a balanced view of control.

11. Review of Esteem

Clinicians explore esteem with patients, reviewing feelings of permanent damage and the need for perfection. Finally, the clinician begins to discuss the termination of treatment.

12. Processing Intimacy and Therapy Termination

Clinicians focus on the development of relationships and their patients ability to calm themselves and self-sooth in a healthy way. Upon termination of treatment, clinicians help identify goals for the future and outline action plans to meet them.

Which Conditions can CPT Help With?

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is specifically used to combat symptoms of PTSD. It can be used for conditions related to PTSD such as the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Psychological distress
  • Avoidance
  • Intrusive thoughts/memories
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Negative physical reactions
  • Disassociation

Symptoms stemming from PTSD can range in severity over time, and all symptoms are not required to be present to be diagnosed. It is common for more than a few symptoms to be present when an individual suffers from PTSD. Furthermore, feelings of hopelessness about the future are present. In turn, it can make it difficult for the individual to function day to day and can decrease their overall well being and life satisfaction. Many individuals that suffer from PTSD struggle with maintaining their lives, relationships, and interests before the traumatic event. A decrease in cognitive function can be present as a result of PTSD. Such as, memory and emotional functions. 

How Effective is Cognitive Processing Therapy?

Put into practice in the late 1980’s, clinicians have seen success along with longevity in practicing CPT. It has been found to be incredibly effective for military veterans as shown in studies conducted in both the United States and Australia. Moreover, studies conducted outside of military settings have shown PTSD patients that received CPT fared better than those that went without at a rate of almost 90% along with outperforming other methods on some non-PTSD scenarios. 

Final Thoughts on Cognitive Processing Therapy

Cognitive processing therapy is proven to be effective. However, it is important to keep in mind that it was developed specifically to treat patients that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. While it can be used to treat depression and anxiety, it is not used to treat those disorders as they stand alone. First and foremost, PTSD is the main component and patients that experience depression and anxiety as a result can find CPT to be helpful in alleviating those symptoms as well. If you find an individual that exemplifies the characteristics of the conditions listed above, think of using cognitive processing therapy to treat them.

Resources:

Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT)

Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT)

Clinicians can use Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the tools to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process.

What is Compassion-Focused Therapy?

Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) is cognitive behavioral therapy style that focuses on treating those that struggle with hypercriticism of oneself, shame and low self-esteem associated with past traumas or abuse. Founded by British psychologist Paul Gilbert, compassion-focused therapy began after observing patients suffering from self-criticism struggled to find a supportive inner voice when participating in traditional therapies. CFT takes inspiration from many different therapeutic approaches and studies but the most recognizable are cognitive behavioral therapy, developmental psychology, evolutionary psychology, social psychology, neuroscience and buddhist philosophy. Gilbert grounded his work around the current understanding of emotional regulation; threat and self protection system, drive and excitement system, and contentment and social safeness system. Through treatment he sought to bring these three affect systems into balance. Gilbert stated that CFT was made from 5 particular realizations:

  1. The human brain and health conditions alike are products of evolution.
  2. The human brain is designed for social processing and is highly affected by relationships. Affectionate and caring relationships lead to strong psychological benefits.
  3. The view of and the way one may treat oneself has a strong effect on their psychological well being. More particularly, those suffering from high self-criticism and shame can further exacerbate negative symptoms associated with mental health conditions.
  4. The complex question of recent human cognitive evolution’s correlation with much earlier evolutionary conditions.
  5. Adequate compassion training has physical, psychological and therapeutic benefits strong enough to help those suffering from severe mental health conditions.

The aim of this therapy is to teach individuals struggling with shame and self-criticism to be compassionate toward themselves and others. By doing so, patients are more effective in regulating their mood and feelings of comfort, safety and self- acceptance. Paul Gilbert started the Compassionate Mind Foundation charity in 2006 and would go on to be awarded the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to psychology in 2011.

How Effective is Compassion-Focused Therapy?

Though a fairly new therapy style in the realm of cognitive behavioral therapy, compassion-focused therapy has seen considerable success in a number of research studies. A study spanning from 2013 to 2022, consisting mostly of women, suggested the CFT was effective in improving compassion based outcomes and clinical symptomology from baseline to post intervention. The study specifically reported improvements in self-compassion, self-criticism, self-reassurance, fear of self-compassion, depression and eating disorders.

Whilst seen to be effective by most CFT clinicians and researchers, some find considerable limitations within this therapy style. In some unique scenarios, patients may have an aversion to compassion so strong that they may find this treatment style too abrasive. Moreover, some may not be able to recognize or even understand compassion itself. CFT can sometimes be challenging for patients in its use of imagery in treatment. At times the use of images can be unsettling for patients and even triggering. 

How Does CFT Work?

As stated in CFT, the emotion regulation system evolved throughout human history; motivating our earliest relatives to avoid or conquer dangerous situations, seek food, mates and other resources, and to psychologically thrive from the benefits of a close social community. In the belief that these systems still affect humans daily, Gilbert theorized that when humans experience imbalances in these areas mental illness and maladaptive processes and development begin to develop, forcing themselves to hyperfocus on threat instead of comfort.

Drive and excitement system

Driving people toward their goals and motivating them to collect resources, the drive and excitement system pushes those to make shouse the stimulate feelings of excitement. Those suffering from hyperfocus in the drive and excitement system sometimes struggle with drug and alcohol abuse or even unsafe sexual practices. 

Threat and self protection system

People regularly feel a wide range of emotions associated with this system like fear, anger and anxiety that stimulate the freeze, fight or flight response. Some develop cognitive biases that manifest themselves in different ways like stereotyping and jumping to conclusions. 

Contentment and social safeness system

Associated with feelings of happiness, the contentment and social safeness system also rewards the absence of threat in one’s life. Typically, the perfect balance of this system includes awareness of being socially connected and safe. Unique in this way, the contentment and social safeness system help regulate both the threat and drive system.

With great versatility in its effectiveness and a singular treatment or in conjunction with other styles of therapy, Compassion focused therapy can take anywhere from 4 to 15 sessions to achieve completion. Initially, clinicians explain to their patients the evolution of the brain and the systems that have developed in humans to regulate emotion. Next clinicians begin the process of compassionate mind training (CMT). Compassionate mind training aims to teach the patient what to recognize compassion and become better at expressing it to those around them and themselves. Through the use of compassion-focused therapy worksheets, meditation, role play, visualization and other processes, patients learn to appreciate the little things in day to day life. Clinicians explore possible traumas causing patients feelings of self-criticalness as well as why they may continue to feed into such negative, psychologically detrimental practices.    

Conditions Treated by CFT

Compassion based therapy has been effective in treating many different diagnoses and symptoms associated with lack of compassion. Made to cater to patients that did not particularly benefit from more traditional therapies, CFT patients understand, feel and express compassion.  Having particular effectiveness when treating feelings associated with the following conditions:

  • Self harm
  • Anxiety
  • Shame
  • Self-criticism
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Anger
  • Psychosis

Final Thoughts on Compassion-Focused Therapy

Compassion-focused therapy is a cognitive behavioral therapy style that attempts to teach patients how to accept, recognize and express compassion to themselves and others. Through the use of compassion-focused therapy worksheets, meditation, role play, visualization and other processes, clinicians help patients learn to appreciate themselves, those around them and everyday occurrences throughout day to day life, allowing them to better regulate their emotions and behaviors and become an effective part of a healthy social community.

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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, or DBT, is a specialized form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The main goal of DBT is to teach people how to stay in the present, cope with stress in a healthy way, process emotions, and to improve relationships in their lives.

According to the National Institute of Health, DBT “has many similarities with other cognitive-behavioral approaches, several critical and unique elements must be in place for the treatment to constitute DBT. Some of these elements include (a) serving the five functions of treatment, (b) the biosocial theory and focusing on emotions in treatment, (c) a consistent dialectical philosophy, and (d) mindfulness and acceptance-oriented interventions.”

What is DBT?

Dialectical behavior Therapy (DBT) is a proven and evidence-based treatment that integrates the change-oriented technique of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with the acceptance strategies of eastern Zen practice. The result is a powerful and balanced treatment approach to help you identify and regulate emotions and improve your interactions with others and yourself.

DBT Addresses Six Types of Dysregulation

  1. Emotional dysregulation – difficulties with managing emotions and anxiety, mood instability, impulsiveness, and problems with anger
  2. Cognitive dysregulation – catastrophic, black-and-white, or all-or-nothing thinking
  3. Self dysregulation – feelings of emptiness or disconnection and feelings of lack of self-concept and self-worth
  4. Behavioral dysregulation – impulsive and self-harming behaviors and behaviors that can make one’s life worse not better
  5. Interpersonal dysregulation – difficulty maintaining positive relationships and fears of rejection and abandonment
  6. Self-management dysregulation – mood-dependent behavior and procrastination

DBT Techniques

DBT is an evidence-based psychotherapy approach that can help treat many conditions through various techniques and strategies, including:

Core Mindfulness

Mindfulness skills are an important technique of DBT. Mindfulness helps you stay present and live in the moment. Many times worrying about the future or feeling negative feelings about the past keep us in a loop of worry and negative feelings, hurting us today. Mindfulness helps sufferers be more aware of what’s right in front of them, including what they hear, smell, taste, see, and feel.

Distress Tolerance

Distress tolerance skills help sufferers accept themselves and their current situation. Some of these skills include: Distraction, self-soothing, improving the moment, and thinking of the pros and cons of not tolerating distress.

Distress tolerance helps sufferers prepare for intense emotions and empowers them to cope and have a more positive outlook.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal effectiveness is a DBT technique that helps sufferers become more assertive in their relationships, such as being able to say “no”, while still keeping their relationships healthy.

This skill will help sufferers deal with difficult people, communicate effectively, and respect themselves more.

Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation is a DBT technique that helps sufferers navigate powerful feelings in effective ways. Skills learned in emotional regulation will help sufferers identify, name, and change their emotions.

Conditions DBT Can Help With

DBT  was developed in the late 1980’s by Marsha Linehan and her colleagues after they discovered that using CBT was not as effective in patients with bipolar disorder. In light of this, Dr. Linehan and her team developed a new type of treatment to meet the needs of these unique individuals.

In addition to bipolar disorder, DBT is effective treating:

Benefits of DBT

In DBT, a practitioner uses “validation” that an individual’s actions make sense given their personal experiences while not necessarily agreeing that their actions are the best approach to solving their problem.

Here are some benefits of DBT:

  • Acceptance and Change: DBT teaches strategies of acceptance and tolerance to life circumstances, emotions, and yourself overall. DBT will help sufferers develop new skills that can help make positive changes in their behaviors and interactions with others and themselves.
  • Behavioral: DBT teaches sufferers to look at their problems and destructive patterns differently and replace them with more healthy and effective ones.
  • Cognitive: Suffers will learn to change their thoughts and beliefs that are not helpful to them.
  • Collaboration: DBT will teach sufferers to communicate and work together as a team.
  • Skill Sets: DBT will teach sufferers new skillsets to elevate their capabilities and change their way of thinking for the better.
  • Support: DBT will teach sufferers to recognize their positive strengths and attributes, to develop them, and to use them to their benefit.

Final Thoughts on DBT

In conclusion, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers a specialized approach to therapy focused on emotional regulation, self-destructive behaviors, and interpersonal relationships. Choosing DBT can be transformative, providing practical skills for managing emotions and improving relationships. It emphasizes acceptance, mindfulness, and skill-building. Consulting a mental health professional can help determine if DBT aligns with your needs and goals. Remember, therapy is a personal journey, and finding the right fit is crucial. Consider DBT’s targeted focus and consult a professional for guidance on the best therapy approach for your well-being and growth.

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Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Clinicians can use Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the tool to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process. 

What is Emotionally Focused Therapy?

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a popular form of psychotherapy that began in the 1980’s by doctor Sue Johnson and doctor Les Greenberg. Both doctors  This form of therapy takes on a humanistic approach by evaluating the individual as a whole, acknowledging their uniqueness, and identifying their ability to have free will. The science of adult attachment which looks at the development of personality and intimate relationships was developed at the same time. The two share a mutually beneficial relationship, thus, expanding the clinicians understanding of an individuals health, dysfunction, and insight on the nature of their family/romantic bonds. A clinician can use EFT to treat both individuals and couples. With couples it is used as an intervention method. The therapy is focused on emotional regulation and emotion as the key ingredients that support individuals life experiences and their important relationship interactions. EFT can be used to identify depression, post traumatic stress, and anxiety in individuals. The therapy has a short term approach and individuals and couples typically go through three stages and a total of nine steps. There is a focus on the intersection of attachment theory and neuroscience. 

How Effective is Emotionally Focused Therapy?

Most research has focused on couples undergoing outcome and process of change studies. However, EFT has been proven to be effective for individuals as well. Attachment theory plays a big role in EFT and MRI studies have shown that there is a significant role within the brain that codes attachments as safety. The benefits of the individual or couple seeing through Emotionally Focused Model are endless in terms of how they can apply it to their everyday lives. They will experience stronger bonds, better emotional regulation, and develop an improved interpersonal understanding. In terms of couples therapy, more secure attachments are achieved between partners, strengthening bonds and communication skills and producing a more fulfilling relationship. Beyond platonic or romantic relationships, EFT has been found to be useful for families seeking to establish meaningful trust and respect for one another through strong communication and thoughtful emotional understanding.

Which Conditions can Emotionally Focused Therapy Treat?

Conditions vary when looking at an individual versus treating a couple. Below we will outline individual and couple conditions:

EFT for Individuals (EFIT)

Individuals partaking in EFT therapy can tackle numerous emotion-related issues that are causing them distress. Such as, anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress. There is a specific model used, called EFT for Individuals (EFIT).

EFT for individuals has been most commonly used treating patients with emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression. Clinicians focus on the patterns leading to feelings of anxiety and depression, helping to develop healthy coping mechanisms and vehicles of expression. Individuals that could benefit from EFIT are those experiencing:

  • Depression. 
  • Anxiety.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

EFT for Couples (EFCT)

More often, Emotionally Focused Therapy is used by clinicians that focus on couples and family therapy. Like EFIT, there are specific models used for families and couples. EFT for Families (EFFT) and EFT for Couples (EFCT). We will outline both models below:

The goal of utilizing EFCT is to provide both individuals with the proper tools to work together through poor communication, conflict, and distress. While working toward repairing bonds between the two individuals, individuality is still kept in mind. Couples, either both individuals or one, that can benefit from EFCT are:

  • Couples facing addiction.
  • Experiencing depression.
  • Working through chronic illness.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Infidelity.

Situations identified by clinicians to work through can be either in the past or present. This approach can assist in eliminating counter-productive reactions in a relationship.

EFT for Families (EFFT)

This approach focuses on providing family members with the proper tools to stabilize their environment as a result of their negative interaction pattern(s). Families that can benefit from EFFT are:

  • Parents struggling to connect with children.
  • Families dealing with addiction.
  • Families dealing with interpersonal traumas.

How Does EFT Work?

EFT is a short term form of therapy in which couples , families, and individuals go through three stages and nine phases. Below we will break down each stage and phase:

Stage 1: De-escalation

The de-escalation stage of EFT seeks to identify the trigger of the undesired occurrence and the direct responses to it, reframing interactions and responses to achieve more sensible reasonings for such outcomes. This stage is broken down into 4 specific phase listed below:

Phase 1: Identify conflict issues. Explore negative emotions felt and assess how they are expressed within such issues.

Phase 2: Identify negative interaction patterns.

Phase 3: With the assistance of a clinician, the patient or patients identify, share, and feel unacknowledged emotions related to the negative interaction patterns.

Phase 4: The clinician then reframes key issues in terms of negative interaction patterns, developing an understanding of the pattern and the emotions continuing it. 

Stage 2: Restructuring

In the restructuring phase of EFT patients are taught to express their emotions more effectively to achieve more desired responses from their various relationships, establishing a more trust and a secure bond within these relationships. This stage is broken down into 3 specific phases below:

Phase 5: Express unfulfilled needs and responses.

Phase 6: The clinician then guides the patients through multiple effective avenues of expression for specific emotional needs.

Phase 7: The clinician provides the patients with healthy ways to discuss difficult topics and express emotions effectively.

Stage 3: Consolidation

Finally, the consolidation stage requires patients to revisit reoccurring difficult issues to implement new skills from a place of confidence and security. This stage is broken down into 2 phases listed below.

Phase 8: The clinician encourages patients to use newly found tools to approach old problematic situations with new innovative solutions.

Phase 9: Patients begin implementing newly learned communication and coping skills outside of therapy settings.

Final Thoughts on Emotionally Focused Therapy

While Emotionally Focused Therapy is used more for couples than individuals and families, this does not mean that a clinician cannot use EFT to treat the latter. It is an empirically validated form of therapy that has extensive research behind it. If you find an individual, couple, or family that exemplifies the characteristics of the conditions listed above, think of using EFT to treat them.

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Existential Therapy

Existential Therapy

Clinicians can use Existential Therapy (ET)  worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the tools to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process. 

What is Existential Therapy?

Existential Therapy is a more philosophical therapy style that focuses on the human condition as a whole pertaining to the ideas of free will, and the search for deeper meaning. Focusing on the individuals rather than the characteristics displayed by various mental disabilities, clinicians bring attention to their patients ability to make fruitful choices in life that lead to them living their lives to its fullest potential.

Sharing many practices with styles like humanistic psychology, Existential Therapy has been studied and practiced for many years with origins leading back to the philosophical works of Friedrich Nietzsche and Soren Kierkegaard. Many leading philosophers of their time continued to compound their knowledge of topics related to Existentialism with Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre probing into the value of investigation and interpretation within treatment in the early 1900’s. By the mid 1900’s, existential therapists like Otto Rank spearheaded the sole pursuit of practicing this style prompting leading psychologists like Rollo May and Irvin Yalom to investigate deeper into the discipline and bring more attention to it. By 1965, the Philadelphia Association was founded by RD Laing and his colleagues with an aim to use the ideals of existentialism to help provide people relief of mental illness of all descriptions.

Following, many other more focused organizations were created like the Society for Existential Analysis in 1988 and the International Community of Existential Counselors in 2006.

How Does Existential Therapy Work?

Existential Therapy focuses on specific concerns rooted in the individual’s existence such as, concerns of death, isolation, and freedom and emptiness as stated by Yalom. ET focuses on the anxiety that occurs when a client confronts their conflict in life as the clinician helps the patient focus on personal responsibility for making decisions. Most clinicians view this practice as a collaborative, encouraging and explorative dialogue between two equal, struggling humans in which one is seeking advice and one who is trained to provide it. The goal of existential therapy is to create an honest, supportive, empathetic and challenging relationship between the clinician and patient that will encourage the patient to feel comfortable to explore how here-and-now emotions along with dynamic interactions with the clinician and others help to shine light on past experiences, current events, and future expectations.

ET differs from common treatments as clinicians relate regularly distressing symptoms such as anxiety and rage to being a more meaningful and understandable reaction to the current circumstances presented. Through this process of discovery, patients obtain a more conducive understanding of their experiences and subjective conclusions associated with them. Helping clients come to terms with their own existence, they ultimately develop the courage to find adaptive ways to live in the present thus providing a more satisfying and meaningful future. 

Which Conditions can Existential Therapy Treat?

Existential therapy is a broad, adaptably treatment that is just as commonly paired with other treatment styles as it is used by itself. ET has been found to be effective in treating people whose mental and emotional disorders cause them to question their ability to make meaningful choices in their life. Clinicians aim to alleviate symptoms such as:

  • Excessive anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Alienation
  • Nihilism
  • Avoidance
  • Shame
  • Addiction
  • Despair
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Rage
  • Resentment
  • Purposelessness
  • Psychosis
  • Violence

While existential therapy has been seen to be an effective treatment for many different mental conditions, studies have shown ET is very effective for people who are chronically ill, incarcerated and living in care homes. In regards to addiction and incarceration patients, ET’s emphasis on positive choices can help those suffering make healthier, more self-aware decisions.

How Effective is Existential Therapy?

Recent studies have shown that ET can be incredibly beneficial to patients seeking to improve their attitude towards life and self-flourishing decision making. ET is not designed to be either a long-term or short-term treatment as treatment length and intensity are adjusted to the needs and goals of the patient. Existential therapy and existentialism have been explored and practiced for many decades and have been found to be incredibly effective in a multitude of applications, yet, many people still see considerable limitations and concerns regarding this treatment style; Most of which of these cases stem from a lack of knowledge about the processes as expressed in the following examples and their combated reality :

Limitations/Concerns

  1. One universal existential theory that covers all ideals and assumptions of existential psychology. Most scholars and clinicians agree on at least 5 categories to this approach; rendering ET a more broad and adaptive approach to treatment in comparison to more unfaceted approaches to treatment.
  2. There is no difference between existential psychology and existential philosophy. While they do share some core beliefs, existential philosophy and psychology differ in the varying perspectives of the originators that grew to further separate the two disciplines.
  3. Existential psychology is anti-religious. With many of its pioneers identifying within the Christian faith, clinicians are careful to make a clear separation between the healthy discouraging of one innately following another one person or religion and promoting anti religious viewpoints. 
  4. Existential and humanistic theories are the same thing. While in general agreement in overall thought, there are many disagreements between these two schools of thought pertaining to degrees of emphasis on certain ideals.
  5. Existential therapy takes on a pessimistic view of life. Some people feel that some of the core ideals of existential psychology like the experience of suffering should be embraced can be seen as dark but that is a general misunderstanding. Clinicians don’t encourage suffering in itself, rather than acceptance of its inevitability.

Final Thoughts on Existential Therapy

Existential therapy is an effective therapy style that aims to help those suffering with the acceptance of perceived harsh realities of life. With its origins predating the early 1900’s, existentialism and its implantation within ET has been studied at a rapid rate and yields astounding results in its ability to improve patients attitude towards life and fruitful decision making. While there are many misconceptions about this therapy style, ET is a positive, forward thinking process of acceptance that promotes self-awareness in its patients.

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Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP)

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP)

Clinicians can use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy  worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the proper tools to establish an effective treatment plan throughout the therapy process.

What is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy?

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy is a focused therapy style used usually in connection with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This behavioral therapy focuses on targeting thoughts and situations that give rise to obsessive behaviors in a controlled environment, making it most common and effective use with patients suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) . Through ERP patients learn more about their disorder, why they obsess over certain things, and how compulsion is directly fueled by their obsessions. Taking inspiration from the research done on classical conditioning by scientists like Ivan Pavlov and John Watson, Joseph Wolpe developed an effective form of systematic desensitization that involved controlled exposure to certain catalysts that produced thoughts of existential fear or dread as a means to reduce sensitivity to these scenarios. Continuing to expound upon this research, Stanley Robinson used these methods to create what is known today as Modern ERP to directly combat severe cases of OCD. Many health organizations consider ERP to be one of the most efficacious and effective ways to treat OCD.

How Does ERP Therapy Work?

ERP can best be described when broken down into two portions being exposure and response prevention. Exposure refers to the practice of helping patients confront things that induce such obsessive thoughts such as scenarios, images, and objects. On the other hand, response prevention defines the role of the clinician helping the patient to regulate their responses to these stimuli, encouraging and teaching their patients how to recognize and avoid falling into negative compulsive behaviors. Due to the exposure of such anxiety provoking scenarios ERP can be seen to be challenging but with the help of their trained clinicians patients have been able to show improvement in quality of life and have exhibited higher rates of continuation in treatment.

Initially, clinicians use early sessions to learn more about the symptoms of their patients by asking and answering questions and using ERP worksheets to create a treatment plan. After developing a treatment plan, the clinician continues by exposing the patient to triggering scenarios by way of various mediums; at times even leaving the office to enter the local community for use of public interaction. Throughout these intense training sessions, the clinician offers the patient support and guidance on how to cope with and maneuver around obsessive thought and compulsive reactions. After recognizing stimuli and creating an effective action plan to combat their responses, clinicians begin to provide a more hands-off style of support that allows their patients to practice talking themselves through their action plans and giving them the confidence and experience to de-escalate their obsession and reactions more personally. After exhibiting mastery in this practice, the clinician then begins assigning homework to the patient, giving them the tools to practice the principles of ERP within their home lives and providing them information about relapse prevention.

How Effective is ERP Therapy?

Many studies classify ERP as one of the most effective ways to treat OCD. Researchers see improvement for most patients that complete treatment in their quality of life and ability to navigate themselves away from obsessive thought as a whole. With that said, some of the same researchers and many others recognize some considerable concerns, limitations and misconceptions about this unique therapy style compared to more psychotherapy (talk-therapy) based methods. In the next section, we will take a look at some of ERP Therapy’s limitations and misconceptions. 

Limitations & Misconceptions of ERP

Let’s review some limitations and misconceptions of ERP:

Financial Concerns and Availability

While recognizing its unique effectiveness in treating such a debilitating mental disability, some researchers have voiced concerns that patients may ot be able to continue or complete treatment due to the cost and limited availability to clinicians with proficient training in this therapy style.

Designed to Hurt Patients

Some patients and even researchers think that such focused, deliberate exposure to obsession provoking scenarios can be detrimental to patients. While initially anxieties usually do increase, the completion of ERP is proven to be one of the most effective ways to treat OCD.

Facing Your Fears

ERP is much more involved and effective than one attempting to “face their fears”. In ERP, patients are guided by trained professionals and given tools to confront objects and scenarios that produce feelings of anxiety that contribute to obsessive thoughts and compulsive reactions. With this guided practice, patients more confidently use their acquired tools to continue to identify stimuli and combat them directly and effectively

Similar to Flooding

Flooding is another behavioral therapy style used to treat OCD that shares some similarities with ERP but overall is largely different in principle. Flooding attempts to overwhelm the patient’s nervous system by over exposure to situations they fear the most to reset the nervous system entirely. On the contrary, ERP is a much more gradual practice that can be difficult at times but allows the patient to more slowly and comfortably progress within intensity and independence within treatment.

Final Thoughts on ERP Therapy

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy is a long proven, effective style of treatment for those suffering with OCD. With contributions from various behavioral scientists such as Pavlov, Watson and Wolpe beginning in the early 1900’s, many years of development and critique have gone into this therapy style which has fine tuned the processes in with clinicians provide patients with the tools to combat, reduce and eventually nullify the triggering of intrusive, obsessive thoughts and negative compulsive behaviors associated with them. Throughout treatment, clinicians use ERP worksheets and other various methods to formulate a treatment plan completely unique to their patient. In a safe, controlled environment, clinicians encourage patients to confront the objects, scenarios, and obsessive thoughts that go on to produce anxiety stricken, compulsive behaviors that negatively affect their quality of life. Through the use of hands-on guidance, patients learn to cope with these moments independently thus leading to overall improvement areas affected by OCD and many others. Though there are quite a few misconceptions and concerns about this therapy style, it has been proven to be one of the best available for patients with OCD to date. 

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Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

Clinicians can use Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the tool to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process. 

What is EMDR Therapy?

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an interactive psychotherapy approach aimed to relieve psychological stress. This approach is an empirically validated psychotherapy that was introduced in 1989. It utilizes standardized protocols and procedures throughout the treatment process. Treatment consists of eight phases and a three-pronged protocol. The three-pronged protocol consists of identifying and processing the details of the past events that lead to the psychological disturbance, processing current triggers of distress, and identifying what is needed in the future. EMDR can be used to treat children, adolescents, teens, and adults of both sexes. 

How Effective is EMDR Therapy?

While EMDR therapy is relatively new, it has been proven to be an effective method of combating traumatic memories and symptoms in patients. This approach does not require the client to detail the traumatic event, which can be distressing in itself for the client. Instead, it focuses on the emotions, behaviors, or thoughts associated with the traumatic event. In comparison to other forms of therapy, it can work faster, involves less out of session assignments, and can be less stressful to the client. EMDR is a low-risk therapy approach, with the most common negative effect being the clients negative thoughts and/or feelings in between sessions. However, throughout the process the therapist can help prepare and equip the client on how to combat them.

Which Conditions can EMDR Therapy Treat?

The main goal of EMDR therapy is for the patient to be able to utilize an interactive psychotherapy approach. This allows the patients to better conceptualize their trauma and effectively implement their treatment plan. EMDR therapy is recommended for individuals that experience intense, overwhelming memories of their trauma and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

How Does EMDR Therapy Work?

EMDR is a multiple phase treatment plan. Due to this, patients are required to participate in  multiple sessions of therapy. In total, there are 8 phases that can take around 6 to 12 sessions to complete. In some cases, extended time may be necessary. Treatment overall can take several weeks to a few months. We will outline the 8 phases below:

Phase 1: History & Treatment Planning

During this phase, the therapist and client will have a discussion to identify why the client is seeking therapy and establish a secure relationship between the two. They will also discuss how EMDR therapy can benefit the client. A treatment plan and pace is developed around the client’s current needs, selected impactful traumatic events, and the client’s internal and external resources.

Phase 2: Preparation

During this phase, the therapist will outline the process and set expectations for the client. This phase offers the opportunity for the client and therapist to address any questions or concerns, further establishing their secure relationship. Collaboration is also a key focus in identifying the specific techniques that will be used to cope with emotional disturbances that may arise during treatment. It is common for Phase 1 & 2 to be prolonged as clients begin to feel ready to move forward.

Phase 3: Assessment

During this phase, the target event is identified. Along with identifying the event itself, therapists work with clients to identify their beliefs, feelings, imagery, and sensations associated with the event. 

Two scales are used to establish baseline measures:

  1. Subjective Units of Disturbance (SUD) scale: This scale demonstrates the level of fear associated with the event. It ranges from 0 to 100, with 0 being relaxed and 100 being a high level of distress/anxiety.
  2. Validity of Cognition (VOC) scale: This scale demonstrates the client’s ability to identify the positive cognition as true or false.

While both of these scales are used to establish a baseline, they are also used again throughout the treatment process.

Phase 4: Desensitization

During this phase, dual attention bilateral simulation (BLS) is involved. This process helps keep the client grounded while it activates the client’s information processing system through the use of side to side eye movements, taps, or sounds. BLS is used throughout this phase while the client focuses on the traumatic event and will continue until the client reaches a 0 or 1 on the SUD scale. Whichever the therapist deems appropriate in accordance with the treatment plan.

Phase 5: Installation

The installation phase will not begin until the desensitization phase is completed. When completed, this phase will be targeted to strengthen the client’s association with a positive belief and the target event. 

Phase 6: Body Scan

During this phase, client’s are asked to think about their target event in relation to the positive belief instilled and observe their physical response to it. In the event that there is a report of disturbance present, BLS will be used again to help reprocess it.

Phase 7: Closure

During this phase, the therapist will check in with the client and assess the progression of treatment. If there is more work to be done, the therapist and client will revisit reprocessing the event until the client reaches a state of neutrality. Neutrality will be gauged by a SUD report of 0, and a VOC report of 7. Furthermore, the therapist will provide effective coping techniques to maintain effective treatment.

Phase 8: Re-evaluation

After each session of reprocessing, the session will begin with the re-evaluation phase. During this phase, the client and therapist will converse about the memories and feelings discussed in the previous session. If the client shows no signs of distress, and treatment has proven to be effective, new targets can be identified at this time.

Final Thoughts on EMDR

While EMDR therapy is not widely known to the public it is just as, if not more, effective in treating psychological stress disorders. If more well-known approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are not helping your client, it would be worth it to try EMDR therapy instead. Many individuals find success in this interactive approach to recovery during treatment and afterwards by developing effective coping skills. 

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Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt therapy is a holistic and experiential form of therapy that focuses on the present moment experience, personal responsibility, and the integration of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Developed by Fritz Perls in the 1940s, gestalt therapy emphasizes self-awareness and self-acceptance as key components of personal growth and healing.

In gestalt therapy, the therapist and client work collaboratively to explore and gain insight into the client’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as they arise in the present moment. The therapy often involves experiential exercises, such as role-playing, empty chair technique, and guided imagery, to bring awareness to unresolved issues or conflicts.

One of the central concepts in gestalt therapy is the “here and now” focus, which encourages individuals to pay attention to their immediate experiences rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. By bringing attention to present experiences, clients can gain a deeper understanding of how they relate to themselves, others, and their environment.

Another important aspect of gestalt therapy is the emphasis on personal responsibility and ownership of one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. Clients are encouraged to take responsibility for their choices and experiences, and to develop awareness of the ways in which they may avoid or resist taking responsibility.

Gestalt therapy also recognizes the importance of the therapeutic relationship and the interaction between the therapist and client. The therapist provides support, empathy, and guidance, helping the client explore their experiences, gain insight, and make meaningful changes in their lives.

Overall, gestalt therapy aims to help individuals develop self-awareness, enhance their ability to make authentic choices, and foster integration and wholeness in their lives. It is a dynamic and creative therapy approach that can be beneficial for individuals seeking personal growth, self-exploration, and resolution of unresolved issues.

How Effective is Gestalt Therapy?

Gestalt therapy has demonstrated effectiveness in addressing various mental health concerns and promoting personal growth. While research on gestalt therapy is still developing, studies and clinical observations suggest positive outcomes for individuals who engage in this therapeutic approach.

Several research studies have provided evidence of the effectiveness of gestalt therapy. For example, a systematic review conducted in 2017 found that gestalt therapy showed significant improvements in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and distress, as well as enhancing overall well-being and interpersonal functioning. Another study published in 2019 indicated that gestalt therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and improving quality of life among individuals who had experienced trauma.

In addition to research findings, numerous individuals who have undergone gestalt therapy have reported positive experiences and outcomes. Gestalt therapy’s focus on self-awareness, personal responsibility, and integration of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors has been credited with facilitating increased self-understanding, improved coping strategies, and enhanced relationship dynamics. Many clients appreciate the experiential nature of gestalt therapy, as it allows for direct exploration and processing of emotions and experiences in the present moment.

Which Conditions Can Gestalt Therapy Treat?

Gestalt therapy can be effective in treating a range of mental health conditions and concerns. While its approach is versatile, it is important to note that the effectiveness of gestalt therapy can vary depending on individual factors and the specific needs of each client. Some of the conditions that gestalt therapy can address include:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression
  • Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Relationship Issues
  • Self-Esteem and Identity Issues
  • Eating Disorders

How Does Gestalt Therapy Work?

Gestalt therapy works by focusing on the present moment experience, promoting self-awareness, and facilitating personal growth and integration. It emphasizes the exploration of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in the context of the here and now. Here are some key principles and techniques used in gestalt therapy:

  1. Holistic Approach: Gestalt therapy takes a holistic view of individuals, considering their thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and behaviors as interconnected aspects of their experience. It aims to promote integration and wholeness by exploring and addressing the various dimensions of a person’s being.
  2. Awareness and Responsibility: Gestalt therapy emphasizes self-awareness and personal responsibility. Clients are encouraged to develop a deeper understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and to take ownership of their experiences and choices.
  3. Here and Now Focus: The therapy focuses on the present moment experience. Clients are encouraged to pay attention to their immediate thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. By exploring and processing experiences in the present, clients can gain insight and make changes in the here and now.
  4. Experiential Techniques: Gestalt therapy utilizes a variety of experiential techniques to facilitate awareness and insight. These techniques may include the empty chair technique, where clients engage in dialogue with different aspects of themselves or unresolved issues, and role-playing, which allows clients to explore different perspectives or interpersonal dynamics.
  5. Dialogue and Feedback: The therapist engages in an active and collaborative dialogue with the client, providing feedback, asking questions, and encouraging exploration. The therapeutic relationship is considered essential in gestalt therapy, as it provides a supportive and trusting environment for the client’s self-exploration and growth.
  6. Experimentation and Creativity: Gestalt therapy encourages clients to experiment with new behaviors, thoughts, or ways of relating. This can involve trying out different perspectives, engaging in creative expression, or exploring alternative ways of approaching situations.

Final Thoughts on Gestalt Therapy

In conclusion, choosing gestalt therapy as a therapeutic approach can offer profound benefits for individuals seeking self-awareness, personal growth, and emotional healing. By embracing the principles of holistic integration, direct experience, and the power of the present moment, gestalt therapy empowers individuals to explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a safe and supportive environment. Through the skilled guidance of a gestalt therapist, clients can develop a deeper understanding of themselves, gain insights into their patterns and blocks, and discover new ways of relating to others and the world around them. Ultimately, gestalt therapy encourages individuals to embrace their authentic selves and live more fully in the present, fostering lasting positive change and greater fulfillment in life.

Resources:

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Clinicians can use Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the tool to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process. 

What is Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)?

Interpersonal Therapy or Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is a relatively short term, concentrated and evidence based approach to providing treatment to those who suffer from mental health disorders. Originally formulated to treat those suffering from major depression, IPT has been useful in treating patients with various diagnoses including eating disorders, perinatal depression, drug and alcohol addiction, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder. With the goal to reduce distress in patients’ everyday life, IPT is used to improve the quality of a client’s interpersonal and social awareness and functioning. In the 1960’s, psychotherapy was known to be more of an art than a science having unreliable, opinionated diagnoses. After learning about the work of Aaron Beck and his successful implementation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), many therapists from different disciplines began using his CBT manual as a framework to build upon their own theories. Gerald L Klerman and Myrna M. Weissman first implemented what would come to be known as Interpersonal Therapy by inserting a psychotherapy condition into an 8 month study in treating patients suffering with major depression during their research in 1969. The researchers theorized that the onset or recurrence of depressive episodes were related to their patients’ interpersonal relationships at the time. The study determined patients that received the treatment experienced relief from depressive symptoms and it helped increase their social functioning. After many years of study and refinement, IPT has been incorporated into national and international treatment guidelines along with having become the center of an international organization. Interpersonal Therapy has been seen to provide patients the proper tools to achieve relief for specific problems outlined below:

  1. Interpersonal deficits such as social isolation or unfulfilling relationships.
  2. Managing grief related to the death of a loved one.
  3. Difficult life transitions such as retirement or divorce.
  4. Interpersonal disputes that commonly occur during conflict between partners, coworkers, friends, and family.

While sharing goals and even some practices with cognitive and behavioral therapy, IPT shows uniqueness in its methods of achieving its goal. Interpersonal therapy addresses negative behaviors as they present themselves within interpersonal conflict. Rather than just attempting to address symptoms associated with mental disorders that cause added interpersonal and social distress, IPT helps to identify and rewire negative relationship patterns and other difficulties that continue to exacerbate these symptoms. 

How Does IPT Work?

Commonly used both individually and in group settings, Interpersonal therapy is a time-limited therapy style that usually lasts somewhere between 12 to 16 weeks. Clinicians use Interpersonal Therapy worksheets to assign homework and provide continuous feedback throughout treatment. This treatment is roughly broken into 3 stages

Phase 1 – Primary

Spanning somewhere between 1 and 3 weeks, in the primary phase the clinician begins by creating a profile of the patient by collecting information like psychiatric history and interpersonal inventory. Through the use of IPT worksheets and in treatment assessment, clinicians are able to begin offering case formulation. In this phase clinicians are able to identify goals for their patients to try to work toward along with formulating a strong baseline for analysis. 

Phase 2 – Middle

Lasting up to 14 weeks, the middle phase consists of clinicians helping patients identify and implement strategies to provide patients the skills necessary to improve in the previously identified lacking areas. As treatment progresses throughout the middle phase clinicians continue to provide feedback and assign IPT worksheets for patients to exhibit proficiency in these desired areas. 

Phase 3 – Termination

As patients begin to experience more desired outcomes within social and interpersonal settings, clinicians begin the termination phase of treatment that usually lasts somewhere between 1 to 3 weeks. Within this phase, clinicians help their patients deal with the initial sense of loss due to the termination of treatment, reviewing overall treatment and social and emotional growth, and educate their patients on topics such as how to effectively continue treatment on their own, relapse prevention and resources for continued treatment. 

How Effective is Interpersonal Therapy?

With multiple decades of strong research, IPT is a proven, effective way to treat many mental health disorders. However, it has seen great success in its target demographic of depressive disorders specifically. Although IPT was designed specifically to treat adults, many different manuals have been formed to cater more to adolescents that have been very effective in practice. More recent studies have shown that the use of IPT for patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder have shown great improvements in their ability to maintain interpersonal relationships and effective communication skills. At the discretion of the clinician, patients are typically administered a combination of medication and IPT or either of which individually. Most studies have concluded that the most effective practice is to use the combination of medication and IPT, some studies have shown IPT can be more effective than antidepressant medications on their own. 

With few identifiable limitations to this therapy style, some clinicians do raise reasonable points against IPT. IPT requires that the patient both desires to make positive changes in their lives and has the self awareness to recognize areas that they personally contribute to the problem. Some patients suffering from certain mental health disorders struggle to exhibit a level understanding of interpersonal relationships required to work on them.

Final Thoughts on Interpersonal Therapy

Originating in the late 1960’s, IPT has been an incredibly useful tool to practitioners that internationally yields successful long-term results for patients struggling with depressive symptoms stemming from a wide range of ailments. IPT is a time-limited therapy style that focuses on the areas of patients’ lives that continue to exacerbate poor social and interpersonal experiences that contribute to worsening their depressive symptoms. Due to its short length of treatment there are low dropout rates. Clinicians are able to provide patients the tools to have more meaningful, long lasting, and successful interpersonal interactions through IPT. While this therapy method does require patients to have a certain level of coherence within understanding of interpersonal relationships, its ability to be used in conjunction with medications opens up its ability to affect different levels of severity in regard to mental illness. With the development of organizations like the International Society for Interpersonal Psychotherapy, research and growth within this area will continue to provide patients with effective care.

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Motivational Interviewing Therapy (MI)

Motivational Interviewing Therapy (MI)

Clinicians can use Motivational Interviewing (MI) therapy worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians with the appropriate tools to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process. 

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a popular psychological counseling approach that provides a more empathetic process to allow patients to create the internal motivation needed to make healthy life changes usually stemming from negative health behaviors. Originally designed in the 1980’s to address addiction, this method has been seen to be useful in treatment for many reasons ranging from management of physical health to preparing patients for more intensive therapy. In some cases, clinicians may opt to combine standard MI with different types of treatment most commonly being Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET). Tested in Project MATCH in 1993, MET uses motivational psychology techniques practiced within the framework of MI along with a more structured approach that involves systemic feedback based on the findings.  

How Does Motivational Interviewing Therapy Work?

Accompanied by a multitude of other therapies, to best understand how MI and MET work both together and independently it is important to understand its origins. In 1980, William R. Miller conducted a clinical study of behavioral therapy for problem drinking. Miller trained 9 counselors in behavioral self-control and accurate empathy, requiring them to counsel outpatients while varying the level at which they expressed empathic understanding while delivering behavioral therapy. 6 months after treatment, results showed a surprising two-thirds variance in client drinking that continued to yield results into the 12-24 month range. In 1989, Miller met Stephen Rollnick; an avid supporter of the use of MI for substance abuse patients and eventually went on to co-author the original MI book in 1991. Having been practiced since the 1980’s, clinicians have found the most success centering focus around motives and the desire for change in the patient’s life by providing reflective listening and expressing acceptance. MI is usually a 1 to 2 session treatment guided by 4 key principles. 

Empathy

The clinician expresses understanding of the patient’s experiences and feelings, providing a supportive environment to express beliefs. 

Self-Efficacy

The clinician promotes the patient’s belief in themselves and their ability to make and sustain desired changes in their life by highlighting their strengths.

Resistance

Clinicians remain wary of becoming argumentative in cases that patients begin struggling to continue change and become resistant to solutions provided.

Discrepancy Development

The clinician helps the patient to identify behaviors and practices that inhibit them from reaching their goals. With the proper training to be able to identify these discrepancies, the patient will be able to implement learned solutions.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Developed shortly after Project MATCH, MET is usually used along with MI to add the discussion of various systemic findings like relapse rates. MET generally consists of about 4-6 sessions in which the clinician provides feedback based on previous assessments, giving patients a broader few of concerns that may not have been realized before. Counseling is non-confrontational and non-judgmental with a focus to avoid diagnostic labels to emphasize personal control. 

Which Conditions can Motivational Interviewing Help With?

MI is used for a variety of reasons but it can also be very specific as to where it can be effective depending on the patient and their goals in seeking treatment. Research has shown that treatment is most effective when the patient begins treatment severely lacking motivation entirely as compared to those patients that were initially motivated to make positive changes. Clinicians can monitor the process of treatment following the 5 Stages of Change which are pre-contemplation of change, contemplation of change, determination to sustain change, action, and maintenance of changes made. MI has been proven to be effective for those in treatment for the following:

  • Substance use disorder
  • Smoking
  • Weight loss
  • Medication adherence
  • Cancer care
  • Diabetes care
  • Poor health behaviors among children

How Effective is Motivational Interviewing?

Research has shown that Motivational Interviewing is very effective. With early implementation of MI principles boasting a two-thirds success rate for things like problem drinking and drug abuse, MI is not a universal fit for all psychological disorders. Along with great results and long term benefits, there are many fair criticisms as listed below:

Benefits of Motivational Interviewing

Let’s review some benefits of Motivational Interviewing:

Increased Desire of Participation

One of the crucial practices of MI is straightforward engagement with patients making them more receptive to treatment. In a study comparing MI to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, patients were twice as likely to continue MI rather than Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

Motivation for Long-Term Change in High-Risk Behaviors

Since its inception, MI has been proven to be very effective in treating those suffering from various forms of substance abuse problems. A common thought shared by those suffering from addiction and substance abuse is that total abstinence seems unattainable; making it difficult to admit to the need for change regardless of its negative effects. MI is centered around building a patient’s motivation to obtain and complete treatment, with patients showing sometimes 20% percent increases in ability to reduce high-risk behavior.

Increased Self-Confidence

MI allows patients to learn to take on the responsibility for making changes in their life thus building confidence in themselves. Many patients seeking MI experience low self-esteem that directly combats their ability to make their desired life changes but as they achieve their desired result they begin to build a greater sense of confidence and higher self-esteem.

Becoming More Self-Reliant

Giving patients new motivation to achieve and maintain life goals, patients learn to rely on coping mechanisms learned during MI. In cases of patients with diabetes, lifestyle changes can be so effective that they no longer need to rely solely on medication.

Possible Limitations

Time to Establish a Relationship

Being a very personal and empathetic therapy style, MI sometimes requires lengthy amounts of time to establish trust and understanding between clinicians and patients.

Cognitive Clarity/Motivation of Client

Some patients suffering from disorders causing impairment of cognitive clarity may at times lack the facilities to formulate an effective plan.

Consistent Follow-up

It is crucial that clinicians are able to follow up with patients at various times after using MI techniques to ensure effectiveness and progress in achieving their goals. Most clinicians find it effective to evenly spread follow ups for up to 12 months after treatment.

Final Thoughts on Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing (MI) therapy is proven to be highly effective. However, it is important to keep in mind that it was developed to treat patients that suffer from disorders that affect their overall well being related to their physical health. Motivation, consistency, and cognitive clarity are the key drivers this technique requires in order for its success. If you find an individual that exemplifies the characteristics of the conditions listed above, think of using motivational interviewing therapy  to treat them.

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Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy

The story we believe about ourselves shapes us. Narrative Therapy is a type of therapy that helps people to embrace their future and overcome overwhelming negative thoughts and experiences. Developed in the 1980s by Michael White and David Epston, Narrative Therapy seeks to empower sufferers through a type of counseling that is non-blaming and non-pathological in nature.

Some techniques of Narrative Therapy include: Putting together your narrative, externalization, deconstruction, and unique outcomes. There is evidence that Narrative Therapy may be helpful for a variety of conditions including: Anxiety disorders, attachment issues, ADHD, depression disorders, eating disorders, grief, PTSD, and more.

What is Narrative Therapy?

Narrative Therapy is a type of therapy that helps a person become and embrace being an expert in their own story. This type of therapy helps sperate a person from their problem by encouraging them to rely on their own skills to minimize problems that exist in their life.

In life, the experiences someone has become their personal stories. People tend to give these stories meaning, and these stories shape how they see themselves via their identity. Narrative Therapy uses the power of these stories to help people discover their meaning and purpose in life.

Narrative Therapy Techniques

In Narrative Therapy, there are a variety of techniques and exercises used to help people heal and move past their negative, painful, or traumatic story. Below are some of the most common Narrative Therapy techniques.

Creating Your Narrative

In Narrative Therapy, trained professionals help their clients piece together their story, or narrative. This process helps a sufferer find their voice and explore past events that they’ve connected meaning to. As the client and trained professional piece their story together, they can begin to become observers to identify the problematic story.

Externalization

Externalization is a Narrative Therapy technique that helps a sufferer observe themselves from a distance, which helps them put distance between themselves and their problems. This distance allows a person to focus on changing unwanted behaviors.

Deconstruction

Deconstruction is a Narrative Therapy technique that is used to help a person gain clarity in their stories. A trained professional will help their clients break down their story into smaller parts, helping them clarify their problem and making it easier to approach and move through.

Unique Outcomes

Unique outcomes is a Narrative Therapy technique that helps a sufferer to maneuver their story so that it doesn’t feel concrete, or never changing. A trained professional can help their clients create an alternate story so that they become less “stuck” in their story to positively impact areas of their life including: decision-making, behaviors, experiences, and relationships.

Conditions Narrative Therapy Helps With

Narrative Therapy was developed in the 1980s by Michael White, an Australian social worker, and David Epson, a Family Therapist in New Zealand. This therapy follows these 3 core principles:

  1. Narrative Therapy respects each client
  2. Narrative Therapy does not blame clients for their problems
  3. Narrative Therapy sees clients as experts on their own lives

There is evidence that this unique technique can help treat the following mental health conditions:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Attachment Issues
  • ADHD
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Grief
  • PTSD

Final Thoughts on Narrative Therapy

In conclusion, selecting narrative therapy as a therapeutic approach can be transformative for individuals seeking to reshape their personal narratives and reclaim agency over their lives. By focusing on the stories we tell ourselves and the meanings we assign to our experiences, narrative therapy offers a unique perspective that empowers individuals to rewrite and reframe their narratives in ways that promote healing and growth. Through collaborative conversations with a skilled narrative therapist, clients can explore alternative perspectives, challenge dominant narratives, and uncover hidden strengths and resources. By embracing the power of storytelling, individuals can gain a sense of empowerment, resilience, and purpose, ultimately creating new narratives that align with their values and aspirations. In choosing narrative therapy, individuals embark on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, unlocking the potential for profound personal transformation and the creation of a more meaningful and fulfilling life story.

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Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

Clinicians can use Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the tool to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process.

What is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) is an action-oriented style of cognitive based therapy that focuses on negative, irrational thought patterns that may contribute to emotional and behavioral issues. The core belief of REBT is that rather than external factors contributing to one’s happiness and fulfillment but their own internal thought processes that more majorly influence these results. Coming into practice through the work of Albert Ellis in 1955, the original form of rational emotive behavior therapy, simply called rational therapy, was created to help those that weren’t particularly benefitting from more commonly used therapy. Ellis is quoted as stating that his goal was to prove “people are not disturbed by things but by their view of things.” Inspired by past philosophical work, the core beliefs in REBT were long before theorized, Ellis is commonly credited with being the first researcher to bring these concepts into a conducive, testable scientifically. 

While built along the same principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, they differ in that REBT has a particular focus on unconditional self-acceptance as a means to correcting irrational thought association with different events and stimuli in life. REBT encourages patients to free themselves of self-judgment and to use humor to help them take these difficult scenarios less seriously. 

How Does Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Work?

All techniques and principles applied in REBT are based around the belief that one actively wants to do well in life and find happiness. REBT researchers believe that sometimes irrational thoughts about these situations get in the way of making well thought out decisions that will lead to the patient’s desired outcomes. For example, a high school student is applying to college and months go by without a response from the school. The student may start to think that the delayed response means they are subpar compared to their peers and that they won’t get into any schools; eventually deciding to stop pursuing a college education out of fear of rejection. Being such a common thought process for those seeking help from REBT, this example embodies a scenario perfect for using the core principles of REBT, which are called the ABC’s.

ABC’s of REBT

The ABC’s of REBT help identify and separate issues that may be beneficial to address in rational emotive behavior therapy.  The ABC’s are further defined as:

A – Activating

Scenario’s or circumstances that trigger negative emotions and responses.

B – Beliefs

The irrational thoughts and feelings associated with the scenario’s.

C – Consequences

How these irrational thoughts and emotions affect the choices we make and how we live our lives

Usually spanning somewhere between 1 to 18 months, Clinicians provide patients with a variety of different combinations of techniques at each level of the ABC’s that will help achieve the desired results from problem situations. These techniques are outlined below:

Techniques of ABC’s for REBT

Here are a few techniques for REBT:

Problem Solving (A)

When addressing the activating portion of the ABC’s, clinicians help patients hone in their problem solving skills. Helping patients become more assertive, patients gain the confidence to use their newly found social skills to create and maintain more purposeful, meaningful relationships. Clinicians help their patients to use more effective conflict resolution skills to promote better decision making singularly and interpersonally. 

Cognitive Restructuring (B)

After identifying triggering scenarios and circumstances, clinicians begin the B phase of treatment by introducing the process of cognitive reconstruction. In the phase of treatment clinicians focus on logical rationalizing techniques. Through the use of tools like REBT worksheets, guided imagery and visualization, and humor to help to look at future possibly triggering events in a different way and reframe thoughts on past events. Through other tools like exposure therapy, clinicians can help disrupt irrational thought as they arise with their patient in a safe, controlled environment.

Coping Techniques (C)

Finally, Clinicians finish treatment by beginning the C phase that consists of teaching their patients ways that they can better regulate their emotional responses to triggering scenarios and irrational beliefs. By implementing techniques that promote relaxation like guided meditation and sometimes hypnosis, clinicians help provide their patients with the skills to create calm, stress reducing practices that will allow the patient to better cope with triggering scenarios and negative, irrational beliefs themselves.

Which Conditions can Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy Treat?

Originally created to cater to patients that found no positive results, REBT can be used independently and in conjunction with other therapy styles. REBT is used to treat those struggling with negative emotions such as depression, guilt, anxiety, low self-worth and anger management. In addition, rational emotive behavior therapy has also been effective in treating those suffering from counterproductive habits such as irrational aggression, procrastination and poor eating habits.

How Effective is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy?

Having been in practice for almost 70 years, REBT has been finely tuned to be incredibly effective in treating its targeted population. Maintaining a dropout rate consistent with studies of other types of therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy patients report high rates of relief in problem areas. In a recent study, results showed that patients experienced significant improvements in functioning through the methods of REBT. These results were consistent amongst the research population that were varied in duration of treatment (anywhere from three to 20 sessions). 

Along with boasting very positive results, there are considerable concerns and limitations commonly associated with REBT. Rational emotive behavior therapy is sometimes seen as a daunting, confrontational therapy style that requires a considerable deal of self reflection and mental fortitude; along with the patient’s full commitment to achieving success within treatment. Also, some studies have shown that underlying major psychological disorders and personality disorders may be an obstacle in the effectiveness of REBT. 

Final Thoughts on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy

Rational emotive behavioral therapy is a cognitive behavioral therapy style that has been incredibly effective in treating those whose diagnoses contribute to irrational thoughts and beliefs. Through the use of problem solving techniques, cognitive restructuring, and coping techniques, clinicians allow patients to explore their thoughts and emotions in a safe, controlled environment. By doing this, patients are able to reframe their thoughts and beliefs associated with difficult and triggering scenarios. Having been in practice since the late 1950’s, REBT boasts high rates of success in treating multiple diagnosis. Though sometimes seen as confrontational and daunting, patients that are committed to treatment often achieve their desired results.

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Reality Therapy

Reality Therapy

Clinicians can use Reality Therapy (RT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the tool to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process.

What is Reality Therapy?

Reality therapy is a form of cognitive based therapy that is more patient focused. One of the more unique principles, reality therapy’s core belief is that psychological symptoms are not brought on by mental illness, but one has learned to use these behaviors to achieve their needs fully. Reality therapy teaches patients to think past their immediate feelings and control how they behave in problematic moments. With less focus on diagnosis, RT allows patients to learn to make better choices that achieve a more fulfilling outcome in a variety of different areas of life.

Foundation Through Choice Theory

In 1965, Dr. William Glasser created Choice Theory that became the groundwork for reality therapy. Choice Theory emphasizes one ability to control their actions and emotions and their limited ability to control that of others. Choice theory states that all behaviors have a purpose that is to achieve fulfillment in one of five basic needs which are:

Survival

The basic need of survival is described as one’s psychological desire to obtain all things necessary to sustain life like shelter, good health, security and even reproductive sex.

Love and Belonging

This basic need encompasses one’s need to have deep connections with people like friends, family, co-workers, pets and intimate partners.

Power

Power describes one’s need to achieve in life and feel as though they “made a difference.” It also includes their need to be competent, recognized and respected; continuing to their need to leave a lasting legacy.

Freedom

The basic need of freedom describes one’s innate need to move freely without restriction. It includes one’s need to have choices and make autonomous decisions.

Fun

Fun encompasses the need for pleasure, humor, relaxation and relevant learning.

How Does Reality Therapy Work?

Based on Glasser’s work, reality therapy runs on the theory that mental health symptoms present themselves when people aren’t fulfilling one or more of their 5 basic needs. When met with these circumstances some people experience problems like poor communication within familial and interpersonal relationships, addiction and other behavioral problems. Continuing to build upon Glasser’s work, reality therapy helps patients come to the realization that the only way one can control external factors of their situation is to control their behaviors. Reality therapy usually spans from 6 to 12 sessions in which clinicians provide patients with techniques to reevaluate choices of the past and present and identify which choices have left them feeling unfulfilled in problem scenarios. While there are many techniques that are commonly shared by clinicians, some of the most successful are:

Self evaluation

Usually introduced early in reality therapy, clinicians introduce the concept of self evaluation in the process of identifying problems areas for patients in treatments. Through the use of reality therapy worksheets and talk therapy, clinicians use the WDEP system to better formulate a plan of treatment. The WDEP system is a 4 step system that consist of:

Wants 

Usually referring back to the 5 basic needs, patients make clear their goals in therapy and in life.

Doing 

Clinicians assist patients in identifying specific behaviors they use to achieve their needs and goals in life. 

Evaluation 

Clinicians help patients to evaluate the choices that they’ve made and make, assessing their effectiveness in allowing them to achieve their previously stated goals in the Wants step of the WDEP system.

Plan

The patient and clinician work together to create a plan to avoid falling into patterns realized in the evaluation phase that might hinder the patients from achieving their goals and fulfilling their basic needs.

Action Planning

This technique teaches the patient to use action plans to make sound decisions in troubling areas of life that will better help them achieve their goals. Clinicians encourage patients to include techniques like focusing on problems they have the power to change rather than those out of their control. With emphasis on taking responsibility for the choices they make rather than making excuses, clinicians tend to promote goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound called SMART goals. 

Cognitive Reframing

Commonly seen in other cognitive behavioral therapies, cognitive reframing is a technique clinicians use to try to change a patient’s thoughts or thought processes about a specific thing. By encouraging patients to take responsibility for their actions, clinicians help patients to start working toward solutions for their problems rather than focusing on their past choices and fearing those of the future.

Behavioral Rehearsal

Clinicians commonly use the technique of behavioral rehearsal to allow patients to practice implementing newly learned methods of effective communications skills and conflict resolutions. This technique has particularly positive benefits for those doing couples or group therapy.

Relationship Habits

Research has shown that many people seeking reality therapy report feeling a deep disconnection in personal relationships. Usually attributed to things like criticism and complaining, clinicians work with patients to identify and address poor relationship habits by implement the seven connecting relationship habits which are supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences  

Which Conditions can Reality Therapy Treat?

While reality therapy doesn’t attempt to address any specific medical diagnosis, it has been seen to be effective in treating those struggling with eating disorders, addiction and substance abuse, anxiety and phobias. In a broader sense, Reality therapy is used in couples therapy, parent-child therapy, and group family therapy. In addition, many companies provide RT to employees in leadership roles to help them sharpen problem solving skills.

How Effective is Reality Therapy?

Having been in practice for many years, reality therapy is a proven method of treatment for people suffering from a multitude of mental health disorders. Multiple studies show great deals of improvement in social anxiety, interpretation bias and interpersonal relationship for adolescents that underwent group therapy. In addition, studies have shown patients benefit from improvement in self esteem and decisions making from receiving reality therapy. 

While boasting such great results some researchers do illuminate considerable limitations of reality therapy. Some researchers fear that while clinicians helping patients develop new thought patterns allows for them to unknowingly impose their own values upon the patients. Also, some researchers find that Dr. Glasser’s denial of patients’ need for medication and mental illness all together received considerable pushback from the psychiatric community.

Final Thoughts on Reality Therapy

Reality therapy is a patient focused therapy that allows patients to take responsibility for the choices that they make in their lives. Clinicians extend encouragement to their patients while they learn to make calm, calculated decisions to better achieve fulfillment of their basic needs in life. RT has been used since the 1960’s and has been proven to have considerable success for many patients seeking to live more fulfilling lives. While some researchers have voiced concerns about the disregard of medication and diagnosis within this therapy style, patients report great increases in self-esteem, mental health, decision making, social anxiety, interpretation bias and interpersonal relationships. 

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Schema Therapy

Schema Therapy

Clinicians can use Schema Therapy (ST) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians with the appropriate tools to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process.

What is Schema Therapy?

Schema Therapy (ST) is a relatively newer, integrative therapy that takes elements from various different therapies ranging from cognitive behavioral therapy and emotion-focused therapy to attachment theory. Developed by Dr. Jeffery Young in the mid 1980’s, ST’s initial conception was brought on by failing to successfully treat patients that struggled with chronic characterological concerns. ST has been used effectively to treat many mental health concerns and personality disorders with particular success treating and retaining those suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. While boasting quite substantial recovery rates, treatment success shows direct correlation with its duration and intensity which can sometimes be costly. 

How Does Schema Therapy Work?

Beginning his research in the 1980’s, Young believed that maladaptive thinking patterns or schema formed in childhood ultimately interfere with the development of healthy practices that would contribute to a more fulfilling adult life, this being especially hard for people also suffering personality and mental health disorders. Using an empathic and understanding approach to confront these schema, he believed that his patients could learn more effective and malleable ways to cope with negative feelings, strengthen and repair relationships, and generally live a more fulfilling life. 

In response to adverse childhood experiences, people develop ways to cope that can be destructive to regular adult function. These negative emotional coping styles can cause people to over exert themselves in certain areas, display cynical views of life, and avoid making deep connections with others. While finding momentary relief from practicing these learned coping skills, they become the fuel for the continuation of the maladaptive schema.

Schema Therapy is a longer term therapy spanning sometimes years. Clinicians help patients identify these maladaptive schema, the relative coping style that they’ve developed, and alternative ways to combat negative reactions to the schema. While many schema and correlating coping styles have been clearly identified by researchers, some believe they can be expressed well in five broader categories:

Common Schema

Disconnection

Patients believe they are isolated from others and the people close to them can’t be depended on for emotional support.

Impaired Performance and Autonomy

Patients believe that they will perpetually under  perform and fail.

Impaired Limits

Patients believe they are inferior to others and are entitled to special treatment.

Other-directedness

Patients feel the need to give control to others in most situations and tend to find their needs less important than the needs of others.

Hypervigilance and Inhibition

Patients fear that expression of emotion will bring on negative results.

Correlating Coping Styles

Surrenderance

Patients accept the schema as fact and may allow themselves to continue in harmful conditions or indulge in self-destructive practices such as accepting and feeling as if they deserve to be abused.

Overcompensation

Patients attempt to combat their schema by acting in ways that directly conflict with it. While to a certain level it can be therapeutic it can sometimes lead to negative results such as burnout.

Avoidance

Patients go to whatever means necessary to avoid stimulating the presentation of the schema leading them to indulge in distracting behaviors such as substance abuse or in cases of interpersonal trauma avoiding relationships all together.

Which Conditions can Schema Therapy Help With?

During early adolescence, maintaining a child’s core emotional needs is critical for proper emotional development. Along with lack of emotional support, negative experiences such as a lack of affection from caregivers, victimization, lack of appropriate limits and boundaries, and internalization of negative parental behaviors and attitudes can contribute to the development and worsening of the schema. These core emotional needs are:

  • A sense of safety and belonging
  • Self-identity and autonomy
  • Freedom of emotional expression and the ask for their needs
  • Ability to play and be spontaneous
  • Age-appropriate limits and boundaries

One of the core beliefs of Schema Therapy is that these abnormal emotional circumstances tend to cause people to form early maladaptive schema. As these children come into adulthood they may find themselves lacking in effective ways to achieve their needs personally and in interpersonal relationships. People suffering from the following mental and emotional disorders can experience increased difficulties:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 
  • Eating Disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse and dependence
  • Chronic Depression
  • Borderline Personality Disorder

How Effective is Schema Therapy?

Amongst those suffering from mental health disorders, researchers have taken a particular interest in the results of patients that suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It has been proven that the patients are much less likely to drop out of treatment in comparison to those that pursue treatment through more concentrated styles of treatment like Cognitive Behavioral therapy. Patients that participated in ST reported that they gained improved self-understanding and better awareness and management of their emotional processes; expressing that while at times confrontational, they found it to be necessary and fruitful

Though relatively new, research on schema therapy has been found to yield significant results for patients. With some studies showing 50% of patients gaining total recovery, 67% of patients at least saw significant improvement. In most cases treatment is most productive over long periods of time giving clinicians time to build a trusting and understanding relationship with their patients. Some researchers argue that patients may struggle to keep up with the financial expenses due to the needs of longevity to see desired results.

Final Thoughts on Schema Therapy

Schema therapy is a comprehensive, long-term treatment technique that focuses on helping patients recognize and understand the correlation between the lack of emotional support throughout adolescence and maladaptive schema and coping styles developed in turn. Being relatively new, some clinicians have voiced concerns with the price of continued treatment for those also suffering from low-quality as an effect of their mental and personality disorders. With high rates of improvement and treatment completion, ST has been found to be a good alternative for BPD patients that tend to drop out of treatment or finish treatment lacking the desired results.

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Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Clinicians can use Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians with the appropriate tools to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process. 

What is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy?

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), or Solution Focused Therapy (SFT) is a short-term future focused therapy. The goal is for patients to look ahead and create goals grounded in solutions for the future, rather than focusing on the issues that brought them to seek help. It was developed in the late 1970s through a collaborative opportunity at the Milwaukee Brief Family Therapy Center by clinicians Insoo Kim Berg, Steve de Shazer, and their colleagues. This clinic was an inner-city outpatient service center. During development, they spent years evaluating therapy sessions and focused on clinician-led questions, behaviors, and statements that resulted in a positive outcome of treatment for the patient. Their concern was discovering the “how” of treatment instead of the “why” behind the problems faced by the patient. What they found to be successful was incorporated into the SFBT/SFT approach.

SFBT/SFT therapy has held prestige among many diverse fields. Such as, social policy, business, criminal justice services, domestic violence offenders treatment, education, and child welfare. Aside from it being one of the leading schools of psychotherapy, it is also widely regarded as one of the leading schools of brief therapy and continues to grow in popularity due to its effectiveness in treatment.

How Does Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Work?

SFBT/SFT takes the time to analyze the pathology of the patients problems and past life events, then seeks to find a solution based on their present and future by establishing long-term goals for the patient. It can be used alone or accompany other forms of therapy treatments. The clinician works in collaboration throughout the entire process with the patient to set goals and execute the treatment plan.The ability for the clinician to empathize with the patient is critical when administering treatment. It is important for the patient to feel seen and heard by them in order for there to be forward movement and overall success. One step the clinician can take to ensure this deals with intentional body language. Leaning into the client as they discuss their problems shows them that the clinician is engaged in understanding what is going on and being said. Furthermore, emphasizing the patient’s strengths and incorporating them into their goals are important intervention steps. A clinician can do so by verbally acknowledging what is successful for the client already and utilizing them moving forward. Both empathy and recognizing strengths will increase the patients self-esteem and encourage forward movement in treatment.

There are certain questions clinicians ask their patients during SFBT. Below we will outline the the key questions of SFBT:

Miracle Questions

A miracle question poses the thought of endless possibilities on how the patient can achieve their goal. An example of a miracle question is “If a miracle occurred tomorrow that alleviated your current situation/problem, how would that affect your life differently?”. 

Presupposing Change Questions

The aim for asking presupposing questions is to focus on positive changes, big or small. These questions help the client recognise the positive without focusing on the negative aspects of the problem they are facing. An example of a presupposing question is “What did you do to avoid unraveling during that time?”.

Exception Questions

Exception questions are used to highlight the exceptions in the client’s life that coincide with the problem they are facing. By asking these questions the client must identify times that their recurring problem was either not present or was present and did not pose negative effects to them. These questions help identify present areas in their life that have given the problem less power over their mental and emotional state. In turn, this helps empower the individual to recognize that they have control. An example of an exception question is “What made that day a better day?”.

Scaling Questions

Scaling questions ask the client to rate their current issue at hand, and motivation to change the experience. These questions are a good way for the clinician and the client to gauge progress. After the client rates themselves, the clinician is able to pivot into a discussion. An example of a scaling question is “On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, how would you rate your experiences today?”. After the client rates themselves, there is a follow-up question probing them to think about their rating. For example, “Why a 3 and not a 4, what can help get you there?”. During this process, clients are able to explore positive commitments to change.

Coping Questions

Coping questions ask the client to discuss their ability to manage their own resilience to the problem. An example of a coping question is “What has been helping you manage your problem so far?”.

Which Conditions can SFBT Treat?

SFBT does not target a particular demographic. It can be used to treat all genders and ages suffering from a wide variety of disorders and situations. Below we will outline the conditions and situations SFBT can be effective in treating:

Psychological Disorders

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotional dysregulation

Situations

  • Self-esteem struggles
  • Work and personal stress
  • Relationship issues
  • Family dysfunction
  • Child abuse
  • Domestic abuse
  • Behavioral problems
  • Communication difficulties

As aforementioned, because it can be used to accompany other forms of therapy, more severe psychological disorders like schizophrenia or psychosis cannot use SFBT as a stand alone treatment plan. When Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is used as an early intervention treatment plan for behavioral problems, it has found much success in preventing the problematic behaviors from becoming severe.

How Effective is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy?

Many studies have shown that SFBT is highly effective for a wide range of behavioral and psychological disorders. The effectiveness of this form of therapy is so popular that while it started in North America, non-Western countries have also adopted the practice. Interestingly enough, the amount of research behind SFBT in non-Western countries has doubled since 2013. Furthermore, follow-up research has shown that SFBT is effective in long-term reduction for psychological disorders such as, anxiety, depression, and mood related disorders when evaluating the patient one year past completion of treatment. Effective use of SFBT can yield desirable outcomes for the patient. Such as, freedom/management from psychological disorders, improved social lives, and overall life satisfaction and physical well-being.

Final Thoughts on Solution-Focused Brief Therapy

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy is an empirically validated form of therapy that has extensive research behind it. Due to its heavy emphasis on focusing on the present and future, it has found much success in treating patients long-term. Also, its ability to be compounded with other forms of therapy make its accessibility versatile. By focusing on the positive aspects that can help them combat the problem rather than the negative “whys”, clients are able to build their self-esteem. If you find an individual that exemplifies the characteristics of the conditions listed above, think of using SFBT to treat them.

Resources:

Somatic Therapy

Somatic Therapy

Clinicians can use Somatic Therapy (ST) worksheets to effectively treat their clients. These worksheets provide clinicians the tool to effectively establish a treatment plan throughout the therapy process.

What is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy (ST)  is a body-focused therapy style that attempts to promote physical, mental and emotional well being by establishing a strong connection between the body and mind. Clinicians that practice somatic therapy find that when talk-therapy begins to slow in desired results focusing on mind-body exercises and other physical techniques can be extremely beneficial.  Typically, this approach is successful when stress is reduced in the physical body thus further alleviating mental stress. Along with these physical exercises, clinicians use talk therapy to guide patients through physical sensations that arise in troubling scenarios. Aligning strongly with ancient practices like yoga and meditation, Somatic therapy is practiced in many different styles and has been for centuries. 

How Does Somatic Therapy Work?

Somatic therapy uses a variety of physical movements to create a strong, cognizant connection between the body and mind. With some of its most effective practices being used throughout multiple societies for hundreds of years, somatic therapy techniques have been found to be very effective. While most treatment plans include things like guided meditation and visualization, breathing exercises, grounding or even dance, there are some specific characteristics of treatment style that create rigid subgroups within somatic therapy.

Somatic Experiencing

Developed in the 1970’s by Peter Levine, somatic experiencing is one of the most widely used somatic therapy techniques used today. Focusing on the body’s reaction to trauma, clinicians that practice somatic experience attempt to release physical and psychological stress by allowing patients to work through physical motions that may trigger negative feelings associated with past trauma. Dr. Levine theorized that some people that experience traumatic events find themselves perpetually stuck in the “freeze” option of the flight or fight response. The built up energy produced when freezing in triggering moments manifests itself in counterproductive outlets like anxiety and stress. By allowing patients a safe outlet to work through these triggering motions, they can better reallocate this energy into more healthy, productive areas of thought.

Hakomi Method

Developed by Ron Kurtz, the Hakomi method focuses closely on mindfulness. The goal of the Hakomi method is to promote mindfulness, allowing patients to be present in moments without judging them. After establishing a feeling of acceptance and comfort between the patient and clinician, clinicians guide patients’ attention to their bodies and unconscious response that it may produce in triggering scenarios. This technique emphasizes ideals of nonviolence and aims to find safe outlets to release this unconscious energy.

Neurosomatic Therapy

Using things like massage and posture correction work, Neurosomatic therapy targets those suffering from symptoms that stem from tension build up in the nervous, soft and skeletal systems. Generally, neurosomatic therapy  aims to eliminate muscle spasms, improve flexibility and biomechanics, and increase muscle strength and endurance. Alleviating these ailments eases the mental tensions commonly associated with chronic pain.

Brainspotting

Brainspotting is a treatment method that focuses on responsive eye positioning that may be associated with emotional responses to scenario moments. 

Which Conditions Can Somatic Therapy Treat?

Being used in many societies for years, somatic therapy and its various techniques have been used to treat many different ailments. With its focus on the connection between the body and mind, somatic therapy is used to alleviate both mental and physical symptoms that are associated with some specific mental health disorders like:

  • Chronic stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Addiction
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Interpersonal relationship issues
  • Sexual function

Somatic therapy has also been found to be very effective in treating those who haven’t achieved their desired result from more traditional styles of talk therapy. Patients that struggle with digestive and sleep disorders are able to use techniques learned to address physical symptoms to combat psychological symptoms effectively.

How Effective is Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy has been found to be effective in treating a wide range of physical and psychological ailments through scientific research with particular success in treating those suffering from Post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. While still in the early stages of intensive research, somatic therapy studies in treatment for ptsd has shown significant improvements in both symptom severity and depression. Other studies have shown success in alleviating symptoms associated with things like cervical myofascial pain, psychosomatic pain and eating disorders. Some studies have even shown somatic therapy techniques having success in treating those suffering from chronic schizophrenia. 

While boasting success in numerous areas in many research studies, some clinicians and researchers raise considerable concerns about this therapy style. Like many other therapy styles, somatic therapy requires that patients also have the personal desire to succeed in treatment. While somatic therapists always make a point to receive consent to touch their patients and establish comfortable boundaries, some patients that suffer from PTSD associated with physical trauma may find these processes too triggering to participate in. 

Final Thoughts on Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy is a body-centered, physical motion focus therapy that attempts to better the connection between the patients’ body and mind. Usually spanning somewhere between 10 and 16 sessions, clinicians allow patients to become in tune with body awareness by allowing them to safely move through physical motions that may trigger or be triggered by mental health disorders. Clinicians teach patients to combat physical symptoms through the use of things like guided meditation and visualization, breathing exercises, grounding and dance in conjunction with more focused techniques like somatic experiencing, hakomi method, neurosomatic therapy, brainspotting and many others. With its origins coming in the 1970’s by way of researchers like Peter Levine and Ron Kurtz, somatic therapy and its techniques have been found to be effective though still in the earlier stage of its more extensive research. Research has shown significant success in treating those suffering a wide range of ailments with particular effectiveness in treating those with post-traumatic stress disorder or suffering from chronic pain. While some researchers find that there could be potential for ethical violation within this therapy style’s use of touch between patients and clinicians, somatic therapists are always upfront in creating comfortable boundaries and consent with their patients. 

Resources:

Final Thoughts: Which Type of Therapy Should You Choose?

Thank you for reading this resource on 19 different types of therapy. There is no “right” type of therapy to choose, and therapy success depends on many factors including:

  1. Therapeutic alliance: A strong and trusting relationship between therapist and client.
  2. Therapist competence: The therapist’s expertise and skills.
  3. Client motivation: Willingness and active participation in the therapy process.
  4. Goal clarity: Clearly defining therapeutic goals and working towards them.
  5. Emotional support: Providing a safe space for emotional expression and healing.
  6. Evidence-based techniques: Using scientifically supported approaches.
  7. Cultural sensitivity: Respecting and honoring the client’s cultural background.
  8. Consistency and continuity: Regular attendance and ongoing sessions.
  9. Personalized approach: Tailoring therapy to individual needs.
  10. Post-therapy support: Providing resources for ongoing progress.

In choosing a type of therapy, it is important to consider factors such as personal preferences, specific needs, and the therapeutic approach that resonates most with you. Each therapeutic approach offers unique perspectives and techniques that can be effective in promoting healing, growth, and positive change. The key is to find a therapy that aligns with your values, goals, and comfort level. It may be helpful to consult with a mental health professional to explore different options and determine the best fit for your individual journey towards well-being and personal transformation.

Kayla Loibl, MA, LMHC
Author: Kayla Loibl, MA, LMHC

Kayla is a Mental Health Counselor who earned her degree from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. She has provided psychotherapy in a residential treatment program and an outpatient addiction treatment facility in New York as well as an inpatient addiction rehab in Ontario, Canada. She has experience working with individuals living with a variety of mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and trauma.

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