My Approach to Therapy
Psychologists typically use a combination of different therapeutic techniques in order to help their clients, and the style that they employ at any given time is often dependent upon the scope and focus of their training, the specific needs of their clients, and the unique relationship that they form with their clients. In my practice, I choose to primarily draw upon a blend of two major therapeutic approaches, those associated with aspects of both Cognitive Behavioral Theory and Psychodynamic Theory.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a focused goal-oriented form of psychotherapy that is based upon the fundamental premise that our thoughts, and not external events, control the emotions that we experience in the here and now. By learning to change the way that we interpret and process information, we enable ourselves to accept and manage our emotions.
This form of therapy is relatively short-term, highly instructive, and very powerful in addressing and treating the recent onset of symptoms, especially such as those associated with depression and anxiety. It is also very useful in identifying those thought patterns that trigger unwanted emotions and behaviors so that they may be replaced with alternative thoughts that are more adaptive, healthy, and fulfilling for the client.
Psychodynamic therapy is a form of insight-oriented depth therapy based upon the core assumption that early on, individuals unconsciously develop maladaptive defense mechanisms in order to repress hurtful or unwanted feelings and emotions that are buried in their subconscious. In other words, to avoid confronting painful memories or thinking about past disquieting events or behaviors, people devise ways, outside of their own awareness, to suppress their emotions and in a sense sidestep the specific issue that is the root cause of their dysfunctional behavior.
A few examples of common defense mechanisms include denial, rationalization, repression, and "acting out" behaviors. By first identifying, addressing, and perhaps containing the conscious and more identifiable form of maladaptive or dysfunctional behavior, the therapist and client are then free to explore the true source of the clients' hurt that is buried deep in their subconscious so that the issue may be brought into the clients conscious awareness, and the internal conflict hopefully resolved.
My initial role as a therapist is to provide an objective non-threatening environment where an individual feels comfortable enough to voluntarily and honestly convey their concerns so that I may properly evaluate and assess the information that they have provided. I next devise a systematic strategy in order to address the issue at hand, fully explain to the client the basis of my evaluation and how that strategy might be implemented, and then encourage the client to follow through on the plan that we had negotiated and agreed to. A clients' role in therapy is to express themselves clearly, to be open and willing enough to learn and enact change, and to make a conscious effort outside of therapy to apply and practice the techniques that they have learned. By applying this form of therapy intervention, the seemingly endless and self-reinforcing cycle of emotional pain and discontent can be broken.