What Kind of Therapy is Best for Me?
There are many different types of therapy available, which can add to the stress of choosing a new therapist. There are also new therapies that are developed and added to the mix, and even therapies that "trend" in popularity. You may find yourself asking "Which one is right for me?".
The good news is that all research shows that therapeutic outcomes are highly correlated with a positive experience of the therapeutic relationship, regardless of therapeutic orientation. In other words, people "get better" and feel better because of the quality of their relationship with their therapist, much more so than what specific techniques or type of therapy your therapist practices.
As you search for your new therapist, consider whether that person will help you to feel safe, guide an exploration to your innermost thoughts and feelings, actively listen and hear you, bring levity when appropriate and gently challenge you when you most need it. This is the therapeutic relationship. This is what matters the most.
Of course, you can also consider what types of therapy the therapist can offer. Some therapists specializes in one type of therapy, others incorporate several (an integrated approach) and still others take a client-centered approach, using a specific type of therapy for a specific client and their needs/desires. Here are the most common types of therapy and what they look like in practice:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is a very popular type of therapy. It is thought to be "evidence-based" and is typically a short-term therapy (8-10 weeks). CBT is recommended for kids and adults, and specifically works to re-frame "distorted thoughts", or thinking that makes us act out or feel sad, anxious or angry. In this kind of therapy, you will be learning concrete skills that can help you "catch" and re-frame thoughts and generally cope with difficult emotions. While deemed highly effective, research has also found that there is often a need for booster sessions after 6 months.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This is a specific type of CBT. It is also short term and present-focused. DBT differs in that it teaches skills related to 4 specific realms of a person's experience: Interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance/reality acceptance skills, emotion regulation, and mindfulness skills. DBT is also usually complemented with group therapy.
Narrative Therapy: This can also be used as a sub-type of CBT, short-term and present focused, though it can also be thought of as a long-term "depth" psychology. The primary ideas behind Narrative Therapy is that a person is separate from their problems, and therapists typically externalize the problems, ie. thinking of Anxiety as outside of one's self and learning skills related to more effective ways of navigating/coping with it. Narrative Therapy also looks at the unconscious or assumed scripts that we have about ourselves, and seeks to find alternative stories that are both more accurate and feel better.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): This type of therapy is often used when someone is ready to process traumatic experiences. The therapist leads the client in bilateral eye movement or hand tapping during the exploration and re-telling of past traumatic experiences. It is believed that these therapist-led somatic interventions support people in feeling more self, contained, and also help re-integrate traumatic memories, so as to relieve intrusive, fragmented memories.
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A therapist trained in this type of therapy takes a comprehensive view of human development, and will help you explore how your childhood experiences and relationships shape your present-day experiences and relationships. The idea is, if you experienced a broken leg during your childhood that never set right, you might still have difficulty walking and/or experience pain. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy aims to re-set the leg, but instead of using an x-ray and gauze, these therapists primarily use relationships. The goal of this long term therapy is not just symptom management, but self-understanding, compassion and healing. Research indicates that it is highly effective.
Play Therapy: This kind of therapy is generally used with children. Through play, therapists gain a better understanding of the child's experience, and create fun ways for kids to learn communicate skills, coping strategies and to strengthen their relationships with themselves and others. This can be short or long term.
At Creating Space Counseling and Wellness, I take a client-centered approach, meaning I use what works for each individual.
For children, I tend to combine CBT, Play therapy and a Narrative approach. I playfully help kids catch negative thoughts and reframe them with healthier ones. I look for alternative stories and explanations, and love to create social stories that kids can keep to remember what they have learned. With adults, the therapy chosen generally depends on the needs and wishes of the person. Are they looking for short-term? Long-term? Wanting to learn a few skills? Or to find freedom from persistent unwanted patterns?
I have advanced training in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Narrative Therapy and years of successful, supervised experience utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Play Therapy. It's true that the therapies I choose say something about who I am as a person and a therapist. But what's most important to know is that regardless of the therapy, first and foremost, I genuinely care about the well-being of my clients.
That is why I do what I do!
Call to make an appointment today! 856-281-1664