Types of Therapy
Some of the Types of Therapy to choose from
Art Therapy uses art and art materials to explore emotions, thoughts and feelings. It does not require that the client is artistic or even good at art. Some people find it is easier or helpful to use colours, shades, drawings or sketches to express their feelings and emotions.
Art and art materials can be used to articulate thoughts or gain more depth of understanding of their emotional experience. Art therapy can be used separately or alongside other therapies to find another or additional way of expressing or articulating feelings and emotions and give both the client and the therapist a window into what is not easily expressed in any other way.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a therapeutic approach which focuses on bringing the unconscious into the consciousness mind and thus helps individuals to experience and understand deep-rooted feelings in order for them to resolve them. It’s origins lie predominantly in Freud’s psychoanalytical approach but it is also influenced by the work of Carl Jung, Otto Rank, Melanie Klein and Alfred Adler.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy assumes that the unconscious mind holds onto painful feelings and memories which were too difficult or overwhelming for the conscious mind to process at the time, and that in order to manage them within the self, defence mechanisms such as denial, projections (onto others) etc. were developed within the psyche. While these defence mechanisms may have served an important purpose initially in providing protection from unbearable feelings and emotions, they may have outlived their usefulness and begun to cause more harm than good by causing obstacles and difficulties in our relationships, both with ourselves and with others.
The Psychodynamic approach to psychotherapy generally maintains strict boundaries around time-keeping, the therapeutic relationship, session duration and frequency and endings are highlighted. The focus on boundaries is regarded as important as it facilitates containment and holding of the client throughout the therapeutic work. There is also a focus by the Therapist on ‘Transference’ which is a process brought about when the client reacts to the Therapist ‘as if’ they were a significant person from the client’s past.
Transference occurs when aspects of relationships from the past come into present interactions and can include both positive and negative feelings including, like, love, caring, concern, dislike or hate. Another aspect of this type of work is ‘Counter Transference’ which highlights the therapist’s reactions towards their clients.
Generally in psychodynamic psychotherapy, the client will know little about the therapist and this lack of self-disclosure often facilitates transference, which can provide client and the therapist with valuable insight into what has been unconsciously felt or experienced up to that point. As an important part of the Therapy, Transference and Countertransference are carefully explored between the therapist and the client in an open and supportive way.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) combines the two different approaches of cognitive (which simply put is thinking) and behavioural (how we behave or act on our thoughts and feelings) for a practical and solution-focused therapy. Our thoughts determine our feelings and behaviour and negative thoughts can cause us to engage in unhelpful and destructive behaviours. With the therapist and the client working together, CBT helps people to become aware of distorted thinking patterns which then allows them to explore and challenge them and in due course bring about change for the better.
CBT is a more active therapy with the client taking a more proactive role and this may also include the client completing tasks at home. CBT differs from other therapies in that it is rooted in the present and looks to the future. While past events and experiences are considered during the sessions, the focus is more on current concerns. During a CBT session, your therapist will help you understand any negative thought patterns you have. You will learn how they affect you and your behaviour aiming to help you get out of negative cycles.
During CBT, issues and problems are broken down into the more manageable component parts of thoughts, feelings and sensations in order to look at how they are creating a negative cycle which is leading to unhappiness and distress. CBT seeks to challenge the current cycle of thinking, and seeks to find other ways of considering the problem or different perspectives which can lead to a more positive or hopeful outlook for the client.
For example even when past events cannot be changed, it can help to decide to learn from mistakes and bring this to bear on new experiences rather than repeating a previous negative spiral into shame, self hatred, isolation or loneliness. CBT aims to teach skills that can provide a new way of coping with problems such as for example, learning to confront fears in a gradual and more manageable way rather than avoidance which can often exacerbate fears and phobias
CBT can be helpful for those with specific issues as it takes a practical approach, rather than being insight-based and looks at solving the problem. CBT can be helpful with those seeking to change their behaviour patterns or those suffering from some or any of the following:
Gestalt therapy was developed in the late 1940s by Fritz Perls and is guided by the relational theory principle that every individual is a whole (mind, body and soul), and that they are best understood in relation to their current situation as he or she experiences it.
The Gestalt approach combines this relational theory with present state – focusing on self-awareness and the ‘here and now’ (what is happening in this moment). In gestalt therapy, self-awareness is key to personal growth and developing full potential. The approach recognises that sometimes self-awareness can become blocked by negative thought patterns and behaviour that can leave people feeling dissatisfied and unhappy.
In Gestalt therapy the key goal is awareness and the therapist’s aim is to to promote this in a non-judgemental way which enables clients understand why they react and behave in certain ways. By raising an individual’s awareness around how they think, feel and act in the present moment, clients can provide an insight into ways of engaging with their current issues, alleviate their distress in order to aspire to their maximum potential in their relationships.
The Gestalt therapist integrates a number of key aspects into her work with the client:
- Person-centred awareness – a focus on the present rather than the past is a central aspect of Gestalt therapy. The therapy process follows an individual’s experience in a way that does not involve seeking out the unconscious, but staying with what is present and aware.
- Respect – Clients, whether an individual, group or family, are treated with profound respect by the Gestalt therapist. Providing a careful balance of support and challenge is key to helping those taking part to feel comfortable about opening up and acknowledging areas of resistance.
- Emphasis on what is being experienced – in terms of an individual’s emotions, perceptions, behaviours, body sensations, ideas and memories. A therapist encourages the client to ‘experience’ in all of these ways, vividly in the here and now.
- Creative experiment and discovery – this involves creative and flexible techniques to help clients open up and acknowledge hidden feelings.
- Social responsibility – recognising that we as individuals have a social responsibility for self and for others. It demands respect for all people and acknowledges that everyone is different. Ultimately it encourages individuals to adopt an egalitarian approach to social life.
- Relationship – Relating is considered central to human experience and gestalt therapy considers individuals as ‘whole’ when they have a good relationship with themselves and others around them. The interpersonal relationship between the individual and therapist that is developed and nurtured in sessions is central to the therapy.
Gestalt therapy helps clients how to identify what they are experiencing rather than what is merely an interpretation of the events. Clients explore all of their thoughts, feelings, behaviours, beliefs and values to develop awareness of how they present themselves and respond to events in their environment. This allows them to identify choices, patterns of behaviour and obstacles that are impacting their health and well-being, and preventing them from reaching their full potential.
Some of the techniques used between Gestalt therapists and their clients to provide insight into an emotional landscape might include:
The ’empty chair’ technique and role play
This is a technique involving two chairs and role-play to facilitate exploration of emotional scenes. The client sits opposite an empty chair and imagines someone (usually himself or parts of him) in it. They then dialogue with this imaginary being – asking questions and engaging with what they represent. Next, they must switch chairs so they are physically sitting in the once empty chair. The conversation continues, but the client has reversed roles – speaking on behalf of the imagined part of his or her problem. This technique aims to enable participants to locate a specific feeling or a side of their personalities they had ‘disowned’ or tried to ignore. This helps them to accept polarities and acknowledge that conflicts exist in everyone.
Throughout therapy, the Gestalt therapist will maintain an awareness of body language as this is often a subtle indicator of intense emotions. When specific body language is noticed, the therapist may draw the client’s attention to it and ask the client to exaggerate these movements or behaviours. This can intensify the emotion experience attached to the behaviour and provide insight into a previously hidden meaning.
Mindfulness is a practice of ‘paying attention on purpose’. Many of us have had the experience of travelling on a journey and suddenly realising we did not know where exactly we were, or of sitting down to eat something and suddenly realising we had finished without remembered if we had tasted it along the way. Mindfulness is about cultivating a practice of being ‘fully present in the moment’ and is the opposite of being ‘zoned out’ or behaving in ‘auto-pilot’.
The practice of Mindfulness stems from the ancient Eastern traditions of Buddhism and was brought to the West by Dr Jon Kabbat Zinn in the 1970’s who defines it as ‘paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
We can all be easily distracted by what is going on around us or easily become lost in our thoughts about things that have happened in the past or may or may not happen in the future and much of this can be futile or unhelpful. Mindfulness is a gently way of being fully present in the ‘now’ in order to see clearly and experience what is happening in our lives in the moment. It takes us away from unhelpful ways of thinking and responding and helps us to find a place of calm and stillness from which to respond and react.
When we practice mindfulness we:
- Are focussed on the present moment
- Are not thinking about what might happen in the future or what has happened in the past
- Are non judgmental about anything we notice at the time, just acknowledge it and let it go.
Some of the key features of Mindfulness are:
- Non-judgemental observation of what is happening in the moment rather than judging it positively or negatively
- Acceptance of thoughts, feelings and sensations and beliefs without trying to change them
- Openness to the world – a willingness to observe and experience things as if for the first time
- Patience and trust in one’s own abilities to deal with life’s experiences
When incorporated into our lives Mindfulness becomes a way of being and helps us to live more full, with more clarity and with more awareness.
It allows us experience life as it is happening and benefits us in the following ways:
- Makes us more aware of our body, and our environment
- Slows down our thoughts and clears our heads
- Allows us connect with our own deep feelings
- Helps us develop acceptance around things we can’t change
- Allows us relate to and respond to our experiences in a much more conscious way
- Experiencing our lives in the present allow us view things as an opportunities rather than in a previously habitual or limited way
- Slows down our nervous system and helps us to relax and to concentrate
- Cultivates inner peace
- Creates more balance in our minds and helps us cope with stress
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and is something anyone can benefit from. Built into everyday life it can bring clarity, calm, focus and peace. Mind and body work closely together and if you can calm your mind, your body will also benefit from relaxation. It is with a relaxed mind and body we can best uncover our potential and find joy and happiness.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a programme that incorporates Mindfulness to help people with pain as well as a range of other conditions and life issues. It was developed by Jon Kabat-Zin in 1979 in the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Since then research has demonstrated its effectiveness in promoting physical and emotional well being and is now an internationally recognised intervention which is used in a number of physical and mental health settings as well as other training and development locations.