Schools of Therapy that Influence my Work

I was trained in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) – a branch of psychotherapy that focuses on how our thoughts and behaviors influence our emotional states.  We try to figure out (1) exactly how we are thinking about what is going on in our lives  (2) how accurate or distorted these thoughts may be, and (3) how to generate thoughts and self-talk that is more reality-based, motivating and supportive to us.  However, when our thoughts accurately reflect reality, and we are still miserable, we shift over to problem solving.  How can we change the situation (rather than our thinking)?  We also identify and increase behaviors that improve your mood, and decrease behaviors that contribute to anxiety, depression, and low self esteem.   Here are some of the principles of CBT:

Collaboration – therapist and client are equals, working together on goals that you have chosen

Empiricism – is there a body of research that shows this therapy to be effective? Can we test out your beliefs in real life, and see how accurate they are?  Can you become a better scientist/observer of your own life to see how the variables that affect your well-being are interrelated, and can be shifted?

Behavioral Experiments – let’s try something new, and see whether or not it works, or what impact it has

Tracking – let’s keep records of what we are doing/thinking in order to (1) increase our awareness, (2 )better assess  what is actually going on (3) increase motivation and momentum for change, and (3)  see whether or not therapy is working

Focus on the present – let’s talk about what is going on now, and what we can work with now, rather than talking about the distant past

I am also extensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).  This has been described as a Behavior Therapy with the added wisdom and lovingkindness of Eastern Mindfulness traditions.  This is a goal-focused therapy (what do you want your life to be like?) that targets specific behaviors (i.e. things you do) to move you towards your goals.  It specifically teaches clients to better identify, label, and understand their emotions, and what role emotions play in engaging or not engaging in specific goal-directed behaviors.  It works to change long-standing patterns (things like isolating, overeating, using substances, self harm, avoidance, passivity, explosiveness, etc.) that detract from relationships, job satisfaction, and quality of life. 

Mindfulness – Google this; others have done a fantastic job explaining what it is.

Dialectics (an esoteric German school of philosophy that proposes that two exact opposites can be true at the same time, and that we arrive at a deeper and more comprehensive truth when we strive to synthesize the  duality and determine what we are leaving out).  Dialectics can free people to be more open, expansive, and flexible in how they think about their problems and their lives.  It also frees people  from having to be right, and seeing things only in black or white.

Behaviorism – how do antecedents and consequences shape our behavior?  How can we change antecedents and consequences around us in order to generate new behavior in ourselves?  What behavior is under the control of antecedents, and what behavior is under the control of consequences?  How can understanding and working with these principles help bring about desired change in our own lives?

Behavioral Analysis - What is the underlying function of a particular behavior? What do we gain from it, or get to avoid because of it? What effect does it produce on those around us?

Chain Analysis - What are the controlling (both external – things in the environment and things we do; and internal – emotions/thoughts) that result in us doing things that move us in the opposite direction of our goals, and end up making us feel bad about ourselves?

In the last two years I have been receiving ongoing training in Functional Analytic Psychotherapy.  This type of behavior therapy helps people identify specific things they do (or do not do) that detract from the quality of their relationships. They then learn new behaviors to enhance their relationships.  We expore the function of these old, ineffective interpersonal behaviors, and their roots in childhood and family of origin.  Most importantly, we work both inside and outside of session to learn and practice new behaviors that enhance relationships.

Published on  November 9th, 2016