THERAPIES AND INTERVENTIONS
How Psychologists Help Differently than Your Friends and Mentors
There are many different ways of helping people resolve their personal and relationship issues – and there is no one single therapeutic approach or intervention that works for every type of problem or every type of client. Therefore, I learn and employ a variety of therapeutic tools in order to best meet the needs of the person sitting before me.
Below, you will find a description of some of my favorite psychotherapeutic tools and interventions. I also use many tools that are not listed here and will continue to study and acquire even more, as the field of psychology is continuously evolving. I believe that therapists must evolve along with it!
I hope you enjoy taking this peak into my therapeutic toolbox as we examine Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy, CBT, Behavioral Therapy, TIST, IFS, EMDR, Heartmath, EFT, Emotionally Focused Couple's Therapy and Focusing.
TOOLS AND INTERVENTIONS
Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy “Mindfulness Based Psychotherapy” (MBS) includes many different techniques and approaches. The therapeutic goal in clinical mindfulness meditation is to help the client become aware of, and accepting of, his or her full experience as it occurs moment by moment. Awareness and acceptance leads to release of stress, sadness, anger and anxiety. At the same time, attention to the present moment helps reduce and eventually eliminate harmful thought processes such as destructive rumination, worry, self-blame, judgement, negativity and more. A client who learns the skill of mindfulness meditation tends to become calmer, healthier and happier over time.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, commonly referred to as CBT, is a treatment that focuses on changing thoughts and actions. Emotions change as a result of treatment. CBT is a standard form of treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and is frequently used in the treatment of excoriation disorder (skin picking) and other habit disorders, body-dysmorphic disorder, depression, PTSD, phobias and anxiety but is also useful in addressing marriage and parenting issues. In my own practice I address cognitions, behaviors and feelings using a wide range of interventions in addition to classical CBT.
This therapeutic intervention is used primarily in the treatment of children’s behavioural issues, and occasionally as part of individual or marital therapy. It consists of the teaching of techniques to be used in anger management, stress management, discipline, relationship building, communication techniques, emotional coaching and other effective listening strategies
TIST (Trauma Informed Stabilization Therapy), IFS (Internal Family Systems) and Other Ego State Therapies
Ego-State Therapy - therapy that addresses the different PARTS of the personality - is another therapeutic tool. There are many ways to practice Ego-State Therapy. A popular form of this treatment is called Internal Family Systems (IFS). TIST (Trauma Informed Stabilization Therapy) is a cutting edge ego state therapy for those wounded by painful childhood experiences and other traumas. Other therapeutic approaches utilize the ego-state concept as well, including Emotionally Focused Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Voice Dialogue Therapy, Transactional Analysis, and many others. In all of these approaches, the client is viewed as a complex entity, having many different “parts.” For example, one “part” may want to lose weight, while another “part” may not want to restrict food. In addition, there may be a critical “part” that attacks the one who wants to eat, and a guilty “part” that feels shame and remorse for having been “bad” by overeating! Parts affect us in our personal care and physical health, our intimate relationships, our parenting, our work life and in every other realm. Some people are actually quite aware of their parts and the conflicts they create, while others are only aware of the effects of their parts such as feelings of panic, inexplicable rage or addictive impulses. The goal of any Ego-State therapy is to re-acquaint the client with his or her entire self and establish a harmonious relationship between parts. The result is improved physical and emotional health, improved functioning and a reduction in addictions and self-harm behaviors.
EMDR (Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
EMDR stands for “eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.” These words refer to the way that EMDR was first used – the client was guided by the therapist to move his or her eyes from left to right over and over again while thinking about something bothersome or upsetting. This movement of the eyes was found to help people quickly “re-wire” neural circuits of disturbing memories and emotions, rendering then completely undisturbing. Shortly after EMDR first came into use, it was discovered that any left-right movement of the body could bring about the same therapeutic results. Today, EMDR occurs by way of left-right eye movements, sounds (through a device that beeps in the left and right ears alternately) and touch (through tapping on the left and right sides of the body alternately). EMDR has been called an accelerated emotional processing tool because clients may rapidly resolve certain kinds of emotional issues that might have taken months or years to treat effectively with more regular “talking” therapies.
People with one-time traumatic experiences (like a car crash, assault, overwhelming medical experience and so on) could often find fast and effective relief with EMDR treatment. In addition, people who suffered years of trauma (like children who were physically, emotionally or sexually abused throughout childhood, prisoners of war, soldiers, abused women and so on) also benefited from the EMDR portion of their longer term therapies. In the early years, EMDR was used primarily to treat these kinds of traumatic experiences, anxiety and phobias. However, over time, EMDR has been found to be helpful with the processing of more “ordinary” stresses as well – the upset of a job loss, the anger and hurt over a broken relationship, the worry about a child’s academic future and other normal difficulties of life.
Heartmath is a collection of tools and strategies especially designed to lower stress and increase emotional and physical resilience. HeartMath interventions help to establish a new physiological baseline – a measurable change in heart rate variability (HRV) that clients can both see (i.e.on a computer screen) and experience within the counseling session. Clients learn to sustain this change outside the therapeutic setting in the midst of their challenging daily lives. As a result of using HeartMath interventions, children, teens and adults experience better sleep, more energy, better mood, less stress, less anxiety, more joy, greater mental clarity, improved intuition, improved concentration, more optimism, improved performance and greater overall well-being. These factors naturally enhance physical and mental health.
HeartMath provides extremely simple tools that allow anyone of any age to immediately shift into greater physiological coherence – a state that feels good and is beneficial on every level: physical, mental and emotional.
EFT and Energy Psychology
Energy Psychology (EP) is the name for a broad range of psychological treatments that utilize the human energy system. One of the most popular forms of Energy Psychology in current use is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).
From the point of view of Energy Psychology, painful physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms are characterized by a disruption in the energy system. By correcting a disruption in the energy system, these techniques can bring complete balance within a disturbed internal pattern and virtually “re-wire” the inner world, making fast, deep and enduring changes in thoughts, feelings and physical processes. EFT is a unique therapeutic tool that clients can learn to use on their own for lifelong stress relief and personal growth.
Emotionally Focused Couple’s Therapy
Emotionally Focused Couple’s Therapy is an approach to couples therapy that focuses on repairing and enhancing the marital bond. Drawing on attachment theory, this form of treatment explores and heals the emotional connection between partners, helping them to establish a relationship that feels secure, loving and affirming. Behavioral change is the result of understanding one’s own needs and the needs of one’s partner. It arises spontaneously as a result of addressing old wounds and their impact. Partners come to understand themselves and each other in profound ways and become more skilled at both expressing and meeting emotional needs.
Emotionally Focused Couple’s Therapy goes to the heart of the issues, healing relationship pain and establishing a secure foundation for the future.
Dr. Eugene Gendlin uses the term “focusing” to describe a specific body-mind skill that anyone can acquire for the purpose of stress reduction and emotional growth. It involves paying close attention to one’s bodily expression of emotion in order to resolve negative feelings. By contacting the inner feeling (known as the “felt sense”), welcoming it, accepting it and listening to it, a person is able to clear distressed feelings.
Focusing-oriented psychotherapy is a form of experiential, client-centred therapy. This means that the therapist acts as a guide to the client’s inner process. Rather than offering interpretations, advice or information, the therapist offers suggestions as to how to take the next step in exploring a troubling emotion. This form of therapy is also known as process experiential psychotherapy. The therapist is like someone who holds a lantern for the client who is “in the dark” with a particular emotional response. By lighting the way with directions on the inner journey, the therapist helps the client “hit home” with his or her emotion. It is this locating of the felt sense and its shift that causes true psychological change.