Therapeutic Techniques

There are a wide variety of therapeutic techniques or strategies used in therapy.  Most therapists are trained in multiple forms of therapy and use a variety of those techniques to aid their clients in achieving their goals.  Below is a brief description of a few therapeutic techniques that you may have heard of, or be interested in.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

The belief of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that a person’s mood is directly related to the person’s thoughts.  The goal of CBT is to help people recognize negative thought patterns, assess the accurateness of those thoughts, and alter those thought patterns with healthier, more accurate thought patterns.  For example, if someone does not do well on a test and they say to themselves, “I am so stupid!  I can’t do anything right.”  CBT strategies teach the person to acknowledge that a poor grade on a test, does not necessarily mean they are “stupid” or unable to do “anything” right.  It only means they did poorly on that particular test.

DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy)

DBT is a combination of cognitive and behavioral therapy that integrates the use of mindfulness.  DBT is useful to enhance skills for those who have difficulty regulating their emotions, coping with stress, or have dysfunctional patterns that interfere with positive skills the individual does have.

Play Therapy

Play therapy involves using a variety of play and art therapy techniques to help children process a variety of emotional or personal issues that may be affecting their behavior and/or mood.  Play can allow children to process emotions or experiences through make-believe in a way that they cannot in real life.  The “sacred space” of the therapist’s office gives the child a neutral, safe environment in which to do their “work”.  The therapist also helps give words to the child’s emotions, helps interpret the symbolic meaning of their play, offers the child new strategies for approaching the problem, and helps build self-esteem and coping skills.

Sand Tray Therapy

In sand tray therapy, the sand tray represents the client’s world.  The client, (children through adults) choose small figures and/or objects to create a version of their world or current problem.  The creation of the world allows the client to visually explore their world or problem more reflectively.  It gives clients opportunity to consider potential solutions that they can even manipulate in the sand tray.  It also allows clients to develop deeper personal insights.

EMDR(Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

EMDR is a trauma-based treatment.   It is generally used when someone has a history of a trauma that continues to negatively impact and impair a person’s life.  It can assist in reducing the impact of the distressing psychological and physiological symptoms or images that accompany a trauma that keeps coming to the surface and causing psychological distress.  It can also be used with significant anxiety and phobias that impair a person’s life. There are many You Tube videos that demonstrate this technique created by Francine Shapiro. There are many You Tube videos that demonstrate this technique created by Francine Shapiro.  One video is titled “EMDR demonstration video with Colleen West-Part I” which demonstrates using TheraTappers for an episode of EMDR.  Another titled “Q5: Can you tell us why EMDR works? – EMDR with Dr. Andrew” describes why researchers believe EMDR is effective.   It is unadvisable to attempt this procedure without a trained professional, as the process should be done in a controlled, safe place.