Types of Therapy
Tips and Questions for Finding a Therapist: This is a blog post I wrote with some things to consider when looking for a new therapist.
Common Therapies for Trauma
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
The focus of ACT is to encourage people to develop a compassionate relationship with what might be defined in other therapies as “unwanted” thoughts or feelings. The idea is rather than fighting these feelings or feeling guilty for having them, a client should accept and embrace them. A client may be taught to be aware of and detached from negative thoughts (for example, if they have the thought, “It’s all my fault,” they might be asked to say “I’m having the thought that it’s all my fault.”) This detachment takes force out of the negative thought. A client may be taught to work out their values and take action based on those values, with purpose and intent, rather than being guided by emotions.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
In CBT, a therapist will work with the client to examine the relationship between their behaviour and their thoughts and/or feelings. This therapy is based on the idea that psychological problems are caused, at least in part, by faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking and/or unhealthy or harmful learned patterns of behaviour. Therapists using this type of therapy will work to find the problematic thought patterns or behaviour patterns and help the client to recognize and improve on them. This may involve such gains as getting a better understanding of the motivations and behaviours of others, learning how one’s thought patterns are causing problems and reevaluating them, working to develop a greater confidence in one's own abilities or creating a healthier and more positive outlook in general.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
The basis of DBT is finding a balance between acceptance (of such things as the idea that their experiences are valid) and change (the idea that they need to work on making positive changes to deal with issues and move forward). It tends to be focused on regulating emotions, accepting uncomfortable feelings and learning to be mindful. A DBT therapist may teach a client about such things as new coping strategies for a troubling situation (especially when it is impossible to change), ways to manage emotions so they are less overwhelming, or about recognizing and accepting thoughts and feelings as they happen rather than denying or avoiding them. You can check out our page on DBT skills to see some of the skills you may learn with a DBT therapist.
A client in exposure therapy faces their fears with the guidance of their therapist, in a safe setting. Sometimes this may be done only in their imagination, while in other cases it may be done in real life. Therapists often work with the client to set up a hierarchy of feared objects/situations from the least feared to most feared (for instance, looking at pictures of a mouse, then a mouse in a video, then a mouse behind glass, then a mouse in a cage, and finally a mouse that is loose).. Some therapists may gradually work up through the hierarchy from the least feared to higher fears, while others may “flood” the client by starting with the highest fears. The exposure may also be combined with relaxation exercises or other methods of conditioning the body away from a panic response.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
The idea of EMDR is to help the brain to resolve any unresolved traumatic memories. This will allow the brain to naturally heal from the associated trauma. The idea is that the therapy can reconnect the brain in a slow and safe way to the emotions, images and body sensations related to a trauma, This means the brain will be able to heal and move past things which it might have been attempting unsuccessfully to process in ways that result in flashbacks, anxiety attacks and other post-trauma symptoms. A client may be exposed to something that causes rapid eye movement while in the process of reviewing a memory, at the specific instruction of a trained EMDR therapist. This allows the brain to properly process the memory.
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More Pages About Healing