Counseling Approaches

Looking for a counselor may feel like an overwhelming endeavor, especially for someone already dealing with troubling symptoms, trauma, or loss. The myriad of counseling approaches, styles, and specialties are undoubtedly confusing. Generally speaking, counseling approaches are guided by theory and research, both of which inform the method of practice.

I Implement an Integrative therapy Approach which refers to therapy in which elements from different types of therapy are used. The following list describes some of the approaches that I implement in my practice.

Psychodynamic Counseling

Psychodynamic Counseling is probably the most well-known counseling approach. Rooted in Freudian theory, this type of counseling involves building strong therapist-client alliances. The goal is to aid clients in developing the psychological tools needed to deal with complicated feelings and situations. Freud also was concerned with the impact of early experiences and unconscious drives on behavior.
 
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is grounded in the assumption that “emotional disorders are maintained by cognitive factors, and that psychological treatment leads to changes in these factors through cognitive and behavioral techniques” (Hofmann & Smits, 2008, p. 621). In other words, by combining both cognitive and behavioral approaches, CBT focuses on how thoughts and behaviors dictate a person’s feelings in a given situation. A variety of different techniques and components may be included in CBT, such as exposure, social skills training, cognitive restructuring, problem-solving training, journaling, and relaxation training.
 
Mindfulness-Based Counseling

Mindfulness-Based Counseling is grounded in mindfulness philosophy, which “refers to a process that leads to a mental state characterized by nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment experience, including one’s sensations, thoughts, bodily states, consciousness, and the environment while encouraging openness, curiosity, and acceptance” (Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010, p. 169). Mindfulness-Based Counseling is an increasingly popular approach aimed at helping clients to increase relaxation while removing negative or stressful judgments. This technique helps to teach clients how to deal with emotional stressors reflectively instead of reflexively (Hofmann et al., 2010).
 
Rational Emotive Therapy

Albert Ellis developed Rational Emotive Therapy in the mid-1900s. It is a type of CBT in which a person’s distress is perceived as a function of irrational or faulty thinking. The therapist works with the client to examine their cognitive appraisals of how an event may have created an outcome (Gonzalez et al., 2004). In other words, it is the client’s belief about a situation, rather than the situation itself, that is the focus of treatment. Unlike Client-Centered Therapy, Ellis’s Rational-Emotive approach is active and directive, intending to help clients avoid self-defeating beliefs and ultimately experience a more positive sense of wellbeing.

Reality Therapy

Reality Therapy was developed by William Glasser in the 1950s. Its principles stem from Alfred Adler’s ideas about the social context of human behavior (Wubbolding, 2010). It is based on choice theory, which focuses on the power of individuals to control their behaviors. While not all aspects of life are within our power to change, human beings are always faced with opportunities to respond rationally or responsibly – or not (Peterson, 2000). Reality Therapy helps clients to establish greater control over their lives while enhancing the ability to build meaningful and effective relationships. It is a present-day, non-symptom-focused approach in which the counselor takes on a friendly, positive, and non-judgmental stance. Reality Therapy promotes individual responsibility for actions while helping clients make decisions that are in line with the visions they have for their lives (Peterson, 2000; Wubbolding, 2010).

Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy enables individuals to become experts in their own lives. Each of us has a story we tell ourselves about who we are as a person. Because we derive meaning from our stories, they shape and influence how we perceive and respond to the world around us. By impacting our decisions, these narratives influence our ability to enjoy meaningful and satisfying experiences. Narrative counselors work collaboratively with clients to create alternate stories using a nonjudgmental, respectful approach (Morgan, 2000). Ultimately, clients are guided in re-authoring their stories in a way that is more consistent with their life goals.

Humanistic/Client-Centered Counseling
 
Humanistic Counseling is based on the assumption that individuals already possess the qualities needed to flourish. This approach encourages curiosity, intuition, creativity, humility, empathy, and altruism (Giorgi, 2005; Robbins, 2008). Humanistic Counseling was first developed by Carl Rogers, who later founded Client-Centered Therapy, a Humanistic Counseling style that helps clients reach their full potential as human beings. Client-Centered Therapy promotes a safe climate in which the therapist is empathetic and nonjudgmental. In this way, the client experiences a sense of acceptance, openness, and unconditional positive regard.
 
Interpersonal Counseling

Interpersonal Counseling is a diagnosis-focused approach in which the client’s disorder is regarded as a medical illness that requires intervention (Markowitz & Weissman, 2004). In this sense, any fault or self-blame is diminished for the client. The role of interpersonal relationships and attachment on mental health outcomes is also an important target for this type of counseling. It is a time-limited approach during which clients learn that their psychological issues are linked to environmental stressors. Interpersonal counselors are supportive and compassionate, serving as client allies. Such therapists suggest ways for clients to deal with situations in a way that promotes self-efficacy and reduces symptoms (Markowitz & Weissman, 2004). Based on clinical trials, Interpersonal Therapy has been effective at treating psychiatric disorders, especially depression (Markowitz & Weissman, 2004).
 
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
 
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a modified type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Its main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others.
 
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
 
Acceptance and commitment therapy is a form of psychotherapy, as well as a branch of clinical behavior analysis. It is an empirically-based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies along with commitment and behavior-change strategies to increase psychological flexibility.
 
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing - EMDR

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an extensively researched, effective psychotherapy method proven to help people recover from trauma and other distressing life experiences, including PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders.
Unlike other treatments that focus on directly altering the emotions, thoughts, and responses resulting from traumatic experiences, EMDR therapy focuses directly on the memory and is intended to change the way that the memory is stored in the brain, thus reducing and eliminating the problematic symptoms. During EMDR therapy, clinical observations suggest that an accelerated learning process is stimulated by EMDR’s standardized procedures, which incorporate the use of eye movements and other forms of rhythmic left-right (bilateral) stimulation (e.g., tones or taps). While clients briefly focus on the trauma memory and simultaneously experience bilateral stimulation (BLS), the vividness and emotion of the memory are reduced.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior. It is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes. Motivational interviewing is often used to address addiction and the management of physical health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. This intervention helps people become motivated to change the behaviors that are preventing them from making healthier choices. It can also prepare individuals for further, more specific types of therapies.
 
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT)
 
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is one specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  CPT teaches you how to evaluate and change the upsetting thoughts you have had since your trauma. By changing your thoughts, you can change how you feel.
 
Strength-Based Therapy

Strength-based therapy is a type of positive psychotherapy and counseling that focuses more on your internal strengths and resourcefulness, and less on weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings. This focus sets up a positive mindset that helps you build on your best qualities, find your strengths, improve resilience, and change your worldview to one that is more positive. A positive attitude, in turn, can help your expectations of yourself and others become more reasonable.
 
Emotionally focused therapy (EFT)
 
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a short-term form of therapy that focuses on adult relationships and attachment/bonding. The therapist and clients look at patterns in the relationship and take steps to create a more secure bond and develop more trust to move the relationship in a healthier, more positive direction.

Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy is a form of body-centered therapy that looks at the connection of mind and body and uses both psychotherapy and physical therapies for holistic healing. In addition to talk therapy, somatic therapy practitioners use mind-body exercises and other physical techniques to help release the pent-up tension that is negatively affecting your physical and emotional wellbeing.

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