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Trending in Counseling & Therapy

CBT, Mindfulness, and Recent Advances

By Richard J. Loebl, LCSW, BCD

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Do you know what’s trending in the fields of counseling and therapy? How do you know which approach or method is right for you? CBT – Cognitive Therapy and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy – continues to attract a great deal of attention. Mindfulness methods have gained considerable popularity over the last 5-10 years. Counselors and therapists frequently mention EMDR, evidence-based methods, motivational interviewing, ACT and DBT… When people look for help the psychological jargon can be confusing and overwhelming.

The 5 Most Important Facts about Counseling and Therapy

1. Many research studies show that all types of counseling and therapy are effective, with only minor differences between them.

2. The single most important factor that determines the effectiveness of counseling and therapy is the fit between client and therapist.

3. Clients who report satisfaction and success in counseling or therapy indicate a positive relationship with the therapist – they feel understood, accepted and supported.

4. The therapeutic relationship is based primarily in unconditional acceptance and positive regard.

5. CBT, Mindfulness, EFT and other methods that have been studied extensively are proven to be highly effective.

Current Trends in Counseling and Therapy

The following list of counseling and therapy methods includes the most popular trends, but not necessarily the most effective treatments. Other therapies such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, client-centered therapy, and solution-focused therapy are excluded from this list because they do not necessarily represent the most current, popular trends. It is important to note that many therapists find that traditional methods are more effective.

* CBTCognitive Therapy, or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, has been around for quite some time (first gaining popularity in the 1980’s) – and it is still very popular. The focus of CBT is irrational or negative thoughts and beliefs – and how they are responsible for emotional and behavioral problems. This therapy method involves identifying and changing thoughts and behavior to reduce or eliminate distressing symptoms. Years of research studies show CBT to be highly effective – but not necessarily more effective than other methods.

* Mindfulness – or Mindfulness-Based Therapy is gaining a lot of attention in the media and with counselors and therapists. Medical research on mindfulness methods and meditation has shown a great deal of promise. The regular use of these methods is associated with lower levels of stress and anxiety, reduced symptoms of depression, lower blood pressure, improved focus and attention, and many other positive results. Mindfulness methods are easily incorporated into many types of counseling and therapy. These methods focus on breathing exercises, meditations, emotional detachment and non-reactivity.

* EFTEmotionally Focused Couple TherapyEFT was developed as a type of marriage counseling and couples therapy, but it is also used with individuals and in therapy groups. EFT is based on the new science of love and relationships. Research studies show that EFT is the most effective type of therapy for couples. The main focus is the relationship dance – emotionally reactive patterns and cycles that result in conflict, fighting, and distance. Then we identify underlying feelings and emotions drive that dance, along with unmet relationship needs. The EFT therapist guides couples toward a deeper understanding of their dance, feelings and needs, and helps them to heal the relationship using new conversations based in empathy and compassion.

* EMDREye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing – This short-term treatment for trauma recovery (including childhood neglect, abandonment and abuse) is gaining wide acceptance due to promising research studies, and endorsement by leading trauma therapists and researchers. EMDR therapists help clients to reprocess trauma by creating a learning state that allows for past experiences to be fully integrated and stored in appropriate locations in the brain.

* Evidence-based therapy – This is not a specific type of therapy. Rather, evidence-based therapies include those methods that are supported by research studies of effectiveness and consistent, positive results.

* Motivational Interviewing is an approach that was initially used with alcoholics and drug abusers. It is a client-centered, goal-oriented method for resolving internal conflicts and ambivalence. In this approach there is a non-threatening, non-confrontational collaboration between client and therapist. The therapist usually asks questions designed to elicit motivation for change from the client’s internal system of beliefs and values.

* DBTDialectical Behavior Therapy is a type of CBT originally designed for use with chemical dependency and certain personality disorders. The goal is to change destructive patterns of behavior and to help clients manage their reactive emotional states. The therapy includes methods used in CBT and mindfulness practice, as well as reality testing and guidance on distress tolerance and developing a variety of social and coping skills.

* ACTAcceptance and Commitment Therapy is a mindfulness-based method that teaches clients techniques to accept unpleasant feelings and situations, and commit to behavior change strategies. The approach is action-based, uses rational observation of thoughts, feelings and behavior, and productive goal-setting.

Our Approach at RCSF

At the Relationship Center of South Florida our integrative approach includes many of the cutting-edge methods indicated in this article. Our couple’s therapists use EFT, the Gottman Method, and we individualize our approach for each couple. When we work with individuals, many of our therapists use some combination of CBT, mindfulness methods, and some of the other therapies mentioned here – along with more traditional therapies such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, client-centered and solution-oriented therapies. Please contact us today to learn more about our services, or to schedule an appointment.