Updated: Feb 22, 2021
Therapy can seem like a bit of a black box. There's a therapist, some comfy seating, tissues, a clock, you . . . then what?
The truth is, there are hundreds of types of psychotherapy. Some therapists strictly practice one type, and some learn several types and blend them together. Most therapies originate from a central idea: talking to someone can help you gain perspective, increase self-awareness, and feel more content and confident.
I feel most effective using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Psychodynamic Therapy. I also draw from Family Systems therapy and Internal Family Systems (IFS). To understand what therapy will be like with me, it's helpful to learn a little bit about each one...
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on the relationship between our thoughts, feeling and behaviors. Often people come in feeling emotionally "overwhelmed" and want relief. Other times, they feel stuck in a behavioral pattern (ex: "I keep getting in the same fight with my wife, and it's never resolved.") CBT gives you tools to slow down and look carefully at the related thoughts (ex: "When my wife rolls her eyes at me, I think she hates me"), feelings ("Then, I feel terrified") and behaviors ("I start acting clingy and texting her constantly"). By breaking down these parts, you can gain insight into your underlying beliefs and begin to explore ways to change your patterns.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was created by a psychologist named Marsha Linehan, as a way to help patients who were chronically suicidal. In its intended form, DBT is an intensive treatment that involves weekly individual therapy in addition to a 90-minute weekly skills group and therapeutic coaching calls. I don't offer this form of intensive treatment, and it's rarely necessary for the clients I see. But, I do draw on my DBT training because I've found that DBT skills provide a clear, step-by-step path to becoming more confident and assertive, setting healthy personal boundaries, tolerating emotional distress, and becoming more focused and effective at work and in relationships.
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy assumes that much of what we do and feel is controlled by our unconscious. If this idea seems abstract, consider the last time you fell in love. What drew you to this person? Did you feel in control of your emotions and choices, or did it seem as though the love was happening to you? Similarly, have you ever had an intense dream, filled with vivid images and memories that left you feeling shaken, but you're not sure why? Psychodynamic therapy provides a space to be open and curious about these experiences in order to gain greater personal insight. It provides a frame to explore childhood relationships to understand how they're unconsciously impacting our current relationships and actions. It also provides a frame to discuss the client/therapist relationship to gain greater insight into the unconscious messages we send to others. Clients typically gain greater understanding of themselves and their motives, and ultimately a deeper sense of self compassion and confidence.
I find that different clients are naturally drawn to one therapy more than another, depending on his or her needs or temperament. That said, I don't pick one therapy per person; I always weave aspects of each into my work. If you are particularly interested in one type of therapy, I would love to hear about it! You are always welcome to ask me questions about how I work and therapy in general. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org