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Post by: / May 6, 2024

Picking The Right Therapy For You

Most therapists practice more than one style of therapy. Gone are the days of strict divisions and most psychological issues require more than one approach for successful treatment. My goal in this post is to very briefly describe some of the most common types of therapy being practiced today along with some of the benefits and limitations of each.

 

Supportive Therapy

There is tremendous healing power in just being understood. Think of the last time one of your close friends really made you feel heard. Therapy is not a friendship but that’s more or less the role of a supportive therapist.

Benefits of Supportive Therapy: You typically develop a great sense of comfort with a supportive therapist. It’s easy to underestimate how good a safe and trusting relationship feels. Research continually shows that all success in therapy rests on the quality of the relationship between therapist and client.

Limitations of Supportive Therapy: Most successful therapy requires more than being a good listener. Typically some amount of insight and skill development is also needed.

 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness based therapy is built around a set of ancient wellness and meditation skills that have been modified and updated to meet modern clinical needs. Mindfulness skills have been shown to improve emotional regulation, enhance focus and creativity, improve relationship satisfaction, reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, increase self-awareness and many other positive things.

Benefits of Mindfulness Based Therapy: There are many benefits to learning how to live more fully in the present moment. These include understanding and transforming old patterns and limitations as well as deepening our connection with the richness and fullness of life.

Limitations of Mindfulness Based Therapy: As our awareness skills improve difficult emotions and past traumas can begin to emerge into our consciousness leaving us overwhelmed or re-traumatized. For this and other reasons, teaching mindfulness skills in a safe way is essential.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most common form of therapy practiced today. Its built on the understanding that how we think and act has a tremendous influence on our moods. So by challenging some of our core assumptions and changing our thinking we can change how we feel

Benefits of CBT: We often don’t realize how much influence our core assumptions and habits of thinking about the world have on our lives. CBT is backed by lots of research that demonstrates its effectiveness in changing our thinking to more positive and productive strategies for improving our lives and reaching our goals.

Limitations of CBT: A CBT approach risks becoming over intellectualized and might foster the conditions for living in our heads at the expense of our true wholeness.

 

Skills Based Therapy

Also called Strength Based Therapy, Skills Based Psychotherapy comes from the field of positive psychology. It empowers clients to create an environment that promotes the changes they desire by training them in the skills they need to accomplish this.

Benefits of Skills Based Therapy: This type of therapy is very good for clients looking to learn better ways of dealing with the challenges of life. Topics might include assertiveness, parenting, managing life transitions, communication skills, self-care, etc.

Limitations of Skills Based Therapy: The biggest limitation of a purely skills based approach is that it sometimes doesn’t get to the root of the problem. This may limit its long term success.

 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is the ultimate skills based therapy. Somewhere in it’s huge bag of tricks there’s a skill for everything. Based upon a core set of mindfulness skills, topics include distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.

Benefits of DBT: DBT is so comprehensive it works for pretty much everything. It was developed to treat some very specific serious psychological disorders but has now been adapted to an ever widening variety of applications.

Limitations of DBT: The limitations of DBT are similar to other skills based approaches in that it may not get to the root cause of the behavior that the client is trying to change.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy aims to help clients live more meaningful and values driven lives. In contrast with some CBT strategies, this therapy style is based on the principle of facing and working with difficult thoughts and feelings directly.

Benefits of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Client values are given special attention in this therapy and are believed to play a central role in helping clients clarify what matters most and what they need for a meaningful and purposeful life.

Limitations of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Most successful therapy involves a balance of both acceptance and change. And similar to Mindfulness Based Therapy, some of the deeper acceptance skills might be inappropriate for clients who may not yet be ready or interested in dealing with certain deeper feelings that might get activated.

 

Depth Psychology

As the name implies Depth Psychology generally takes a deeper look at things. We are often unaware of why we repeat the same patterns or struggle with the same feelings. There is tremendous benefit in understanding and freeing ourselves from the powerful early learning experiences that pattern the way we make sense of ourselves and the world. Psychodynamic therapies of various kinds are currently making a comeback partly through the ongoing revolution in psychiatry involving psychedelic therapy.

Benefits of Depth Psychology: A depth approach gets to the root of most symptoms. Once and understood and worked through most symptoms resolve or dramatically reduce opening up room for new ways of being and limiting the need for future coping.

Limitations of Depth Psychology: The truth is not everybody is ready for deeper work. And even those who are need to have some basic skills in place beforehand.

 

Integrative Therapy

Every client’s specific situation is totally unique to them. Many years of research have shown that although a therapist might identify primarily with one particular type of therapy all successful therapy to some degree involves all styles. On a personal level after 25 years of experience I’m more convinced than ever that this is true. Neglecting any one of the important aspects of therapy described above will reduce the likelihood of success.

Benefits of Integrative Therapy: Integrative Therapy meets every client where they are at. It sees itself as one part of the larger picture of that individual’s overall personal growth and wellness lifestyle. It’s not afraid to go wherever it needs to go.

Limitations of Integrative Therapy: There are certain issues for which a more targeted therapy would be more appropriate.

 

In Conclusion

I hope this brief survey of the options has been helpful to you. Did you find yourself resonating to one style in particular? Therapy can be confusing from the outside and an educated consumer has a much better chance of finding something that’s a good fit for their needs. There’s a lot of overlap between all these approaches and if you’re wondering my wife and I are both probably best described as being in the Integral camp. I wish you all the best with your own growth Journey.

Contact us today and request your appointment!

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