Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people learn how their perceptions, beliefs, and thought processes influence how they respond to specific situations. CBT works to dismantle a patient’s negative belief systems and focus on solutions. By adjusting distorted thinking patterns and assumptions, it’s easier to see the possibility for solutions and break cycles of destructive behavior.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
During the night we process and reconcile the previous day’s events during the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep.
Some memories, however, go unreconciled. Upsetting, traumatic, or confusing memories remain stuck in our psyches, continually haunting and harming us with negative messages about ourselves or an event.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) uses the brain to reconcile the memory. Using eye movements similar to REM sleep, we can lower the disturbance level of a particular memory—from 10 (the most disturbing) to 0 (no disturbance). The therapy focuses on replacing the negative image and representative belief with positive ones.
EMDR is one of the most exciting and promising therapies for treating post-traumatic stress, but it has also proven successful in helping patients with:
- Panic Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Attachment Disorder
- Conduct Problems and Self-Esteem
- Grief and Mourning
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Psychotic Disorders
- Chronic pain
- Migraine Headaches
- Phantom Limb Pain
- Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms
View Video: Introduction to EMDR Therapy
(video courtesy of EMDR International Association)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Psychology Today’s description of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) aligns well with how I work with patients. It specifically focuses on four key areas, which we will address using a therapy workbook to improve “skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships.”
- Mindfulness – the ability to accept and be present in the moment
- Distress Tolerance – the capacity to withstand negative emotion without trying to escape from it
- Emotion Regulation – strategies to manage and alter intense, problematic emotions
- Interpersonal Effectiveness – communication techniques that convey self-respect and respect for others
When working with children and adolescents, I utilize play therapy geared toward the level of the child. Generally, I use self-directed play therapy, where the child or adolescent chooses what and how to play. According to The Handbook of Play Therapy, “Play is a child’s natural way of establishing relationships, communicating, and solving problems.”
I use play therapy to help children explore how certain life events may be impacting their emotions, conduct, learning, and more. My approach is non-intrusive, sensitive, and compassionate.
Internal Family Systems Model
The Internal Family Systems (IFS) model of therapy assumes that human minds are naturally divided into parts and subpersonalities. Everyone has a leading internal Self, but also a complex system of valuable emotional parts that interact with and influence one another and the Self. The goal of therapy is to elevate the core Self as a secure and confident leader, to nurture harmony among subpersonalities and parts, and bring forth the best intentions and talents of all parts.
Below are some key points of the IFS model.
Parts & Self
- Subpersonalities are aspects of our personality that interact internally.
- Parts may be experienced in thoughts, feelings, sensations, images, and more.
- All parts want something positive for the individual and strategize to gain influence within the internal system.
- Parts develop a complex system of interactions among themselves. Polarizations develop as parts try to gain influence within the system.
- Parts that become extreme are carrying burdens, such as extreme beliefs, emotions, or fantasies. Parts can be helped to "unburden" and return to their natural balance.
- Parts that have lost trust in the leadership of the Self will blend with or take over the Self.
- The Self is a different level of entity than the parts—often in the center of the "you" that the parts are talking to or that likes or dislikes, listens to, or shuts out various parts.
- When differentiated, the Self is competent, secure, self-assured, relaxed, and able to listen and respond to feedback.
- The Self can and should lead the internal system.
- Have experienced trauma and often become isolated from the rest of the system in an effort to protect the individual from feeling pain, terror, fear, and so on.
- Can become increasingly extreme and desperate in an effort to be cared for and tell their story when feeling exiled.
- Can leave the individual feeling fragile and vulnerable.
- Run the day-to-day life of the individual.
- Attempt to keep the individual in control of every situation and relationship in an effort to protect parts from feeling hurt or rejected.
- Can do this through a combination of parts—striving, controlling, evaluating, caretaking, terrorizing, and so on.
- React when exiles are activated in an effort to control and extinguish their feelings.
- Extinguish or control feelings through drug or alcohol use, self-mutilation, binge-eating, sex binges, etc.
- Like Managers in that their goal is to keep exiles away, but using different tactics.
View Video: What is Internal Family Systems? (Richard Schwartz, Ph.D, founding developer of IFS)
Video courtesy of IFS Institute.