Psychotherapy Approaches



Also known as individual psychotherapy, Adlerian Psychotherapists believe that an individuals self-image can be self-defeating and that those with “psychopathology” are discouraged rather than sick. Thus, the therapeutic approach is to encourage, to activate social interest, and to develop a new life style through relationship, analysis, and action methods.


Analytical Psychotherapy attempts to create, using a symbolic approach, a dialectical relationship between consciousness and the unconscious. The therapist encourages and guides communication between the two systems via an imagining process using “symbolic language”, as in dreams ,fantasies, etc. Increased awareness, and thus symptomatic relief is brought about by the translation ad interpretation of this “symbolic language”.


Behavioral is composed of cognitive (thought), motor (reflexes), and most importantly, emotional responses. Behavior is seen as responses to stimulation, internal land external, therefore the goal of therapy is to modify unadaptive stimulus-response (S-R) connections (automatic responses). Behavioral therapy methods, insofar as possible, parallel those of experimental psychology. Behavior therapy includes systematic desensitization, assertiveness training, and aversion techniques, as well as several others.


In Client-Centered Therapy, the central hypotheses is that the growth potential of any patient will tend to be released in a relationship in which the therapist communicates realness, caring, and a deeply sensitive, non-judgmental understanding. Thus, the therapist practices participative and empathic listening, while allowing the client to freely vent his/her feelings.


Eclectic Psychotherapy selects what is valid or useful from all available theories, methods, and practices. The eclectic approach rejects adherence to any one school or system, and instead utilizes what is most valid or relevant from the whole therapeutic spectrum. It is composed of contributions from many different sources, used according to whether they are valid, applicable, and indicated. The eclectic method thereby becomes a basic scientific approach to the problem of matching suitable clinical methods to the needs of specific cases.


Encounter is a method of human relating based on openness and honesty, self-awareness, self-responsibility, awareness of the body, attention to feelings, and an emphasis on the here-and-now. As a therapeutic method, it usually occurs in a group setting. Encounter therapy focuses on removing blocks to better functioning. Encounter is also educational and recreational in that it attempts to create conditions leading to a more satisfying use of personal capacities.


Experiential psychotherapy works with immediate concreteness. Linked to existential psychotherapy, which holds that one makes and changes oneself in present living, experiential psychotherapy and “focusing” gets into direct touch with the concrete level, where troubles are said to actually exist. Therapists try to establish a “felt sense” within their patients in order to create a more holistic sense of a problem or unresolved situation.


Existential Psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy which allows clients to be the author of their own lives through self-knowledge. It’s believed that the client's suffering stems from how the they relate to the four ultimate human concerns of death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness. By understanding the underlying conflict the client is able to identify their poor ways of dealing with the conflict and develop better ways of coping with the reality of basic existence. A mutually-open and honest relationship is essential to the therapeutic process because it’s through this relationship that the client learns his or her potential for feelings that have lain dormant. The existential psychotherapist tries to establish and maintain this relationship by striving for an authentic encounter with the client in the therapeutic setting. The therapist is not an impassive participant in the therapy process, but a fully active, open human being, modelling the process for the client.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

EMDR is a process developed by Francine Shapiro to help clients process through traumatic memories and events more quickly. These events can include anything from losing a job or divorce or low self-esteem to sexual/physical/emotional abuse or abandonment as a child. The intense feelings that result from these types of events can become locked in the nervous system and later produce symptoms of fear, anxiety, sadness, and rage long after the event has passed. It is a profound tool for rapid and deep personal healing and change.


Gestalt therapy consists of bringing discordant elements into a mutual, self-disclosing confrontation. This approach is historic, focuses attention on immediate behavior, and calls for the personal participation of the therapist. Individuals often feel fragmented, with at least some perceptions, feelings, behaviors, or thoughts that are puzzling, unrelated, or troubling because they are not integrated with the whole. The task of therapy is to discover the relatedness of these alienated aspects through awareness.


Hypnotherapy is a mechanism that effectively lifts depressions, uncovers memories, encourages abreaction's (the re-experiencing of a previous emotional event) and dreaming (in terms of affective experiencing), enhances both motivation and a working alliance, and is also effective in activating a rapid transference reaction. Hypnotherapy can also be defined as a deepening of a normal psychophysiological phenomenon through an intense focusing of attention upon a specific inner or outer stimulus.


Narrative therapy with individuals, couples, and families focuses on the stories through which people interpret and record their experiences. Based on a social constructionist view of discourse as power, narrative retellings and subtle editing help people reject negative stories of shame, isolation, and powerlessness and create integrated stories of growth, shared struggle, and purpose.


Non directive Counseling emphasizes the importance of getting the individual to share his problems. The individual may need to unload and air his problems, and it is important the counselor affirms the worth of the client by listening. However, just sharing doesn't bring resolution to the problems. It is also important to allow the individual come to a conclusion; however, it is more important to direct the individual to the correct conclusion. Furthermore, if the individual had the answer within himself he wouldn't really need a counselor. Furthermore, so called "common knowledge" is not always true knowledge and is, in fact, often wrong.


As a system of psychology derived from Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalysis stresses the importance of the unconscious and dynamic forces in psychic functioning. It is a form of therapy which uses “free association”, in which the patient is encouraged to speak openly and freely, and relies on the analysis of transferences and resistance. Psychoanalysis strives on making the unconscious more conscious.


Reality therapy consists of a series of theoretical principles. It is applicable to individuals with behavioral and emotional problems, as well as those experiencing identity crisis. Focusing on the present and behavior, the therapist guides the individual towards enabling him/her to see him/herself accurately, to face reality, and to fulfill his/her own needs without harming him/herself or others. The crux of this theory is personal responsibility for one’s own behavior.


RET is based on the hypothesis that an individual’s irrational beliefs result in erroneous and damaging self-appraisals. RET attempts to change these faulty beliefs by emphasizing cognitive restructuring, using the “ABC” theory of emotional disturbance and of personality change. Albert Ellis states “...when a highly charged emotional consequence (C) follows a significant activating (A) event (A) may contribute to, but only partially causes (C). RET hypothesizes that the emotional consequences (C) are more likely caused by someone’s belief system (B) about (A), rather than (A) alone”. Rational-Emotive therapists utilize many cognitive, affective, and behavioral methods to reorient the patient’s belief system.


Somatic Psychotherapy works with attention to the bodily experience. It makes use of breath, sensory awareness, movement, and one's spatial sense and boundaries. Exploring how we form our experience and making use of body metaphors can play a powerful role in this therapy approach. 


Transactional analysis is an approach to interactional psychotherapy. This style focuses on gaining the greatest possible benefit from the group environment. The therapist’s ultimate objective is to provide the client with a level of awareness which enables him/her to make new decisions regarding future behavior and the future course of his life.


Four major viewpoints have emerged in psychology: psychoanalytic, the behaviorist, the humanistic, and the transpersonal. The “fourth force” or transpersonal includes the wisdom and methods of the preceding orientations and expands psychology to include the spiritual aspects of human experience.

The transpersonal therapist uses an eclectic approach. There is an emphasis on the counselor’s own presence, openness, and authenticity as central to the therapeutic process; a respect for the client’s self-healing capacities and on methods evoking those capacities; a view of dysfunction as a growth opportunity rather than “illness,” and an emphasis on the counselor as expert facilitator rather than “physician.”

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