Therapy Modalities

Within the four types of betterment sessions that I offer (read about those here), I am trained to use a variety of therapy modalities. Though I have been trained in nearly 20 different modalities, I have chosen to specialize in a few that I find most helpful for my clients. These are the top eight modalities I bring to sessions:

1. The Gottman Method Therapy

  • Gottman couple therapy is one of the most powerful therapy modalities for relationship work. I can use this modality either in couple sessions or individual sessions focusing on relationship goals. Gottman therapy was created by the academic couple, Drs. Julie and John Gottman. Like myself, they highly value empiricism and using science to learn more about people and the best ways to treat our psychological, emotional and relational problems. As such, all of the theories and interventions in this modality come out of real research findings. Gottman therapy can be successful with around 18 sessions, or just the basics can be taught for you to then practice yourself in 5-8 sessions. Gottman therapy is based on the belief that partners don't need to be similar people, and that the relationship doesn't have to be conflict-free for it to be a successful relationship. Rather, it believes that people can come together lifelong and happily, even with differences and conflict, if there is a true richness of positive moments and turning toward one another.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

  • CBT is one of the most popular therapy modalities today. It is the modality on which the most research has been done, and which has had the best empirical results of symptom improvement. It is typically used to help anxiety, depression, self-esteem and emotional regulation. A purely CBT treatment will typically take between 8 and 16 sessions and include a lot of skills training, worksheets and home projects assigned between sessions. CBT is based on the belief that we have the power to change our perceptions, that our perceptions create our emotions and symptoms, and thus that we have the power to change our emotions and symptoms. It believes that by looking closely at our thoughts about reality and working to change them, we can have control over bettering our feelings, symptoms and core beliefs.

3. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

  • DBT is another very popular modality. It was originally developed to help people with Borderline Personality Disorder, and has also been shown to help eating disorders, depression, bipolar disorder and distressing relationships. A purely DBT treatment will typically take between 8 and 24 sessions. In big agencies or psychiatric wards, DBT treatment will include both a skills training group with others, and one-on-one time with a therapist to explore applying the skills to personal life. It is also possible to simply work with a single therapist one-on-one and do both the skills training and personal applications parts of therapy. DBT is based on the idea that much distress we experience comes from black-and-white thinking that doesn't allow us to sit in the grey or balanced area, which is reality. It believes that by teaching skills like mindfulness, distress tolerance and emotional regulation, we can increase our ability to sit in the grey, balanced space and thus improve our symptoms and ability to handle life's difficult situations. 

4. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

  • ACT is a newer therapy that builds upon CBT and adds new approaches. It has been shown to be effective to help anxiety, depression, OCD, distressing relationships and stress. ACT has not been around long enough to have proven treatment lengths yet, typically done in lengths similar to CBT: between 8 and 16 sessions. ACT is based upon the idea that trying to control or suppress your undesirable thoughts or feelings will only make your symptoms worse. Rather, it believes that true change comes when you build the skills to sit with these negative things, accept them, and then commit to what you are going to do with them in order to be the self that you truly want to be. It believes that by thinking through your self, symptoms and the person you want to be in this way, change is more lasting and meaningful once therapy is completed.

5. Narrative Therapy 

  • Narrative Therapy is different than the three therapies listed above. The three therapies above lean on skills training, worksheets and successive modules to the therapy process. Narrative Therapy, however, takes a more flexible, philosophical approach. Because it takes on the big task on rewriting a whole personal story, it typically takes between 10 and a year's worth of sessions. Narrative Therapy has been shown to help with relationship issues, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, life transitions and life improvement. While a therapist may still occasionally employ worksheets, they are also likely to ask specific questions and lead the therapy in a specific way towards constructing a new narrative that suits your goals. Narrative Therapy believes that our problems, diagnoses and hurts are just a part of our lives. They don't define us, and we are capable of managing them. Narrative Therapy believes that by rewriting the story that you tell to yourself and about yourself, over time, you can radically change the way you live and feel.

6. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

  • EFT is one of the most highly researched and highly sought-after therapies for couples. It was invented to help couples who may feel disconnected, stuck in argumentative patterns or in need of improving their relationships. EFT typically takes between 8 and 24 sessions to be fully effective. EFT has been shown to help with relationship issues for couples, families and individuals who attend therapy. EFT works off the base that most arguments and hurtful interactions arise out of misunderstood emotions between people. It believes that by teaching the skills and specific techniques of hearing, valuing and upholding the emotions of a loved one, arguments can be overcome, harms can be healed and futures can be taken on with readiness. Fulfilling relationships are possible with EFT.

7. Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

  • SFBT is an amazing therapy that has gained traction for its speed and abilities to promote change. It was invented to provide relief and the first parts of change to clients who could only commit to a few sessions, and typically takes between 1 and 8 sessions. SFBT has been shown to help with relationship issues, children and teens, and quality of life for those with depression and anxiety. It is ideal for clients who may feel stuck and in need of help defining their goals. SFBT is founded on the idea that therapy does not always need to dive into the past, one's childhood or history in order to be effective. Instead, SFBT believes that therapy can be effective just focusing on today and tomorrow, goals, solutions and a client's own unique sense of what they hope for

8. Art, Expressive Art and Play Therapies

  • This final category is catch-all of my favourite therapies that lean on interactions other than traditional talk. Art Therapy uses the fine arts like drawing, collage and painting to express oneself, explore an issue, explore solutions and promote healing in a safe way. Expressive Art Therapy uses drama, dance, music and movement to express oneself, explore an issue or relationship, role play new skills to establish a new way of looking at things. Play Therapy uses games, playful exploration, figurines and crafts to express oneself, explore solutions, practice new skills and encourage healing and growth. A purely Art, Expressive Art or Play Therapy treatment will typically take between 8 and 24 sessions. These therapies have been shown to be effective for all ages struggling with relationship and family issues, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and difficult emotions. These modalities believe that, when talk therapy is too difficult or unwanted, there are other enjoyable, meaningful and effective ways to heal and change.

While I've divided these modalities up into their separate categories here, it is not uncommon for a therapy treatment to blend multiple of the modalities together in order to best help the client. I rarely use only one modality in session, but rather pull relevant pieces from many for your unique treatment plan. If you have questions about these modalities and what might work best for you, don't hesitate to connect with me through my Contact page.

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