Primary Therapy Approaches
COHERENCE THERAPY (CT)
As one of only few therapists in Canada, I practice Coherence Therapy (CT), which can be offered to individuals, families, and couples. I was trained by CT Founder Bruce Ecker and CT Institute Co-director Dr. Sara Bridges over 10 years ago and have refined my therapeutic skills ever since.
Coherence Therapy focuses on guiding clients to become aware of unconscious and symptoms-requiring meaning structures, which were formed as a way to cope with traumatic incidents earlier in life. As meaning structures change through Coherence Therapy treatment, symptom relief can be surprisingly swift and lasting, even with persistent problems such as lifelong depression, procrastination, anxiety, and anger.
PROLONGED EXPOSURE (PE)
Prolonged Exposure is a treatment for individuals suffering from PTSD/Trauma, OCD, and other anxiety disorders. PE instills confidence and a sense of mastery, improves various aspects of daily functioning, improves the ability to discriminate safe from unsafe situations, and increases the ability to cope with courage rather than fearfulness when facing stress.
Originally founded by Edna Foa at the University of Pennsylvania Centre for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety, numerous well-controlled studies have shown that PE significantly reduces the symptoms of PTSD in about 80% of patients and effectively treats co-occurring symptoms of depression, anger, and anxiety in trauma survivors. Practitioners throughout the United States and many foreign countries currently use PE to successfully treat survivors of varied traumas including rape, assault, child abuse, combat, motor vehicle accidents, and disasters. PE has also been beneficial for those suffering from co-occurring PTSD and substance abuse when combined with substance abuse treatment.
EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING (EMDR)
EMDR is an evidence-based treatment method that helps the client access higher order thinking capabilities that are not available during an acute traumatic event when survival is paramount. However, it is this higher order thinking and problem-solving ability that is essential in resolving the complexity of the trauma memory and ending suffering. EMDR has been successfully used with clients suffering from PTSD, childhood trauma, accidents/injuries, and anxiety. It is equally effective in children as it is in adults.
During EMDR, I use technological aids such as a light bar, auditory signals or hand buzzers that stimulate the interaction of the right and left brain hemisphere while processing the traumatic event. Using this technology is both calming, particularly when facing traumatic content, and also enhances processing of a whole range of sensory information including sounds, smells, sensations, and images, that can lead to emotional distress.
COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT)
CBT was developed by one of the most prominent Psychologists of the 21st century, Dr. Aaron Beck, and has been researched more in regard to its effectiveness than any other therapy approach. CBT is based on the assumption that the way we think about a situation greatly influences how we feel emotionally. When people are in distress, they often think in short cuts that are not always rational or accurate. CBT helps clients identify unhelpful thinking styles and behaviors to improve their mood and functioning lastingly.
When employing CBT, I specifically focus on increasing coping skills in anticipation of needing to face distressing situations rather than trying to affect the situation itself. CBT is a highly collaborative approach and involves home practice to test out newly acquired skills sets.
EMOTION-FOCUSSED THERAPY (EFT)
Emotion-focused Therapy (EFT) is an evidence-based therapy approach developed by Drs. Les Greenberg and Sue Johnson at York University and is designed to help individuals and couples accept, express, regulate, make sense of, and transform emotions. The basic assumption of EFT is that emotions are adaptive and guide attachment and growth. However, learning about emotions is not enough; instead, what is needed, is for clients to experience those emotions as they arise in the safety of the therapy session. With the help of experiential methods, clients learn how to make healthy contact with feelings, memories, thoughts, and physical sensations that have been ignored or feared and avoided. The ultimate goal of EFT is to assist with developing emotional intelligence, which is an important skill to form secure relationships.
Gestalt therapy was developed by Dr. Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s and 1950s. Gestalt therapy is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes personal responsibility for verbal and nonverbal behavior as it occurs in the present moment between the therapist and the client as well as how it plays out in environmental and social interactions. The goal of Gestalt Therapy is to gain greater awareness of personal boundaries, learning to make healthy contact without neglecting personal needs, and learning self-regulating skills to more effectively refrain from impeding on the needs of others.
FAMILY SYSTEMS THERAPY
Family systems therapy is an approach to psychotherapy which involves the family as a whole, independent of whether the problem that was brought to therapy is viewed as an individual or family issue. There are many schools of Family Systems Therapy, but I found that the techniques of Virginia Satir are among the most effective and lasting to affect the family system as a whole. Family therapy after Virginia Satir focuses on identifying and rectifying unhealthy alliances in the family, often called triangulation. Another area of major focus is exploring communication patterns in the family.