Treatment Techniques

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel. It is used to help treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems, to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression. CBT works by changing people’s attitudes and their behavior by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes that are held (a person’s cognitive processes) and how these processes relate to the way a person behaves, as a way of dealing with emotional problems.

An important advantage of cognitive behavioral therapy is that it tends to be short, taking five to ten months for most emotional problems. Clients attend one session per week, each session lasting approximately 50 minutes. During this time, the client and therapist are work together to understand what the problems are and develop new strategies for tackling them. CBT introduces patients to a set of principles that they can apply whenever they need to, and that’ll last them a lifetime.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be thought of as a combination of psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. Psychotherapy emphasizes the importance of the personal meaning we place on things and how thinking patterns begin in childhood. Behavioral therapy pays close attention to the relationship between our problems, our behavior and our thoughts. Most psychotherapists who practice CBT personalize and customize the therapy to the specific needs and personality of each patient.

Solution Focused Brief Therapy 

Solution-focused brief therapy is an approach to psychotherapy based on solution-building rather than problem-solving. It explores current resources and future hopes rather than present problems and past causes and typically involves only three to five sessions. It has great value as a preliminary and often sufficient intervention and can be used safely as an adjunct to other treatments. Developed at the Brief Family Therapy Center, Milwaukee (de Shazer et al, 1986), it originated in an interest in the inconsistencies to be found in problem behavior. From this came the central notion of ‘exceptions’: however serious, fixed or chronic the problem there are always exceptions and these exceptions contain the seeds of the client's own solution. The founders of the Milwaukee team, de Shazer (1988, 1994) and Berg (Berg, 1991; Berg & Miller, 1992), were also interested in determining the goals of therapy so that they and their clients would know when it was time to end! They found that the clearer a client was about his or her goals the more likely it was that they were achieved. Finding ways to elicit and describe future goals has since become a pillar of solution-focused brief therapy.

Jennifer Erickson is one of our clinicians who specializes in Solution Focused Brief Therapy.

Group Therapy

Group therapy involves one or more clinicians who lead a group of roughly five to 15 clients. Typically, groups meet for an hour or two each week. Some people attend individual therapy in addition to groups, while others participate in groups only.

Many groups are designed to target a specific problem, such as depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety, chronic pain or substance abuse. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness and low self-esteem.

Joining a group of strangers may sound intimidating at first, but group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy may not. Psychologists say, in fact, that group members are almost always surprised by how rewarding the group experience can be.

Groups can act as a support network and a sounding board. Other members of the group often help you come up with specific ideas for improving a difficult situation or life challenge, and hold you accountable along the way.

Regularly talking and listening to others also helps you put your own problems in perspective. Many people experience mental health difficulties, but few speak openly about them to people they don't know well. Oftentimes, you may feel like you are the only one struggling — but you're not. It can be a relief to hear others discuss what they're going through, and realize you're not alone.

Diversity is another important benefit of group therapy. People have different personalities and backgrounds, and they look at situations in different ways. By seeing how other people tackle problems and make positive changes, you can discover a whole range of strategies for facing your own concerns.