Therapy Modalities Explained
So, you decided that therapy is the right track to go with? Or maybe you’re curious to understand the different therapy modalities and types that are commonly used among the different mental health professionals. Each therapy modality can generally address all topics covered during the treatment process; however, they differ in how they look at them and how the topics are tackled. Therefore, one can be more comfortable tackling his or her thoughts through certain modalities more than others. Additionally, different therapists often specialise in a number of them and therefore are equipped to deliver them.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy, also abbreviated as CBT, is known to be highly researched and rooted in evidence-based tools and concepts. The main hypothesis is that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are all connected and influence each other. It explains that when an event occurs, each of our thought patterns uniquely perceives the event, and we form our perspectives regarding the event. These thoughts, whether functional or dysfunctional, then affect how we feel about the event as well as our behaviour that takes place in response to it.
Let’s compare a negative thought pattern versus a positive thought pattern to get a clearer picture. The same situation can trigger several resulting thoughts. For example, starting a new job and being preoccupied with creating workplace friendships. In this case, one can either focus on how discouraging it is to make new friends and fill their thoughts with every negative outcome that could come out of trying, but one can also remember the times he or she were successful in the past when meeting new people and therefore feel encouraged. In the first case, the thoughts and feelings led the person to avoid trying to make new friends, which would then confirm the initial thought (I’m bad at making friends).
And where does CBT come at hand?
During the (short-term) therapy process, the client and therapist work on assessing the client’s thoughts and determining whether they’re helpful or harmful as well as how they affect the client’s life. The harmful thoughts are then challenged and evaluated based on how accurate they are concerning the presented facts. Over time, the client will have learned the tools used to challenge and assess his or her own thoughts, in order to independently apply these skills in their daily lives.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Dialectical behavioural therapy is a modified version of CBT, however, the difference is its main focus. While CBT is concerned with how clients can recognize and change their thought patterns, DBT is more focused on how clients can regulate their emotions and improve their interpersonal relationships. DBT uses certain techniques and taught skills to reach emotional regulation.
Mindfulness allows clients to live in the current moment and become more aware of their feelings through observing them nonjudgmentally.
Distress tolerance empowers clients to deal with stressful situations and to cope with them using healthy techniques.
Interpersonal effectiveness helps client navigate their relationships with others by learning how to communicate their needs assertively and how to maintain healthy long-lasting relationships in their lives.
Emotion regulation teaches clients how to handle strong emotions effectively by identifying, naming, and changing their emotions.
The client-centred therapy modality is where the client and therapist are seen as two equals in the therapy process. Therapists practising this treatment style are characterised by genuineness and congruence, meaning that their behaviour is compatible with their thoughts and feelings, which allows them to be in their most open state with their clients. This not only helps to build a good rapport between the client and therapist, but it also helps to foster an honest and healthy rapport between them. The therapist also demonstrates acceptance and support towards the client regardless of what the client is thinking, feeling, or behaving, meaning they always provide the client with unconditional positive regard. Lastly, therapists using this modality will be keen on displaying an empathetic understanding of the client’s experiences and feelings. Therapists may do so using several methods, including rephrasing what the client is expressing in order to be sure that they understand them completely. The client-centered perspective places an emphasis on clients’ abilities to heal and grow when given the right support. Nowadays, this approach is usually integrated with other modalities.
Each one of us may connect with one specific or a combination of therapy modalities, which is why there are so many, and no matter which type you are most comfortable with, they can all work to resolve any concern you have. With this information at hand, you can better understand how to choose your therapist. You can always ask them beforehand which modality they prefer using as well as their credentials regarding their therapy modality.