“While you can’t control your experiences,
you can control your explanations.”
― Martin E.P. Seligman, Learned Optimism:
How to Change Your Mind and Your Life
If you’ve been feeling hopeless or lost lately, or struggling with a problem in your life that feels unsurmountable, individual therapy could help you improve your everyday life. Individual therapy helps you win against whatever you’re battling by putting an expert in your corner by means of a professional therapist.
So if any of these sound like you…
- You are going through a life transition
- You are trying to make a change in your life but feel “stuck”
- You keep worrying about the same problem over and over
- You don’t have anyone you could trust with knowing about your innermost thoughts and feelings
- You wish there was somebody who could tell you why you feel the way you do
- Other areas of your life are being negatively impacted by your challenges
- You need somebody to listen to you and your feelings in a non-judgmental space
…Then individual therapy could be right for you.
Therapy is most successful when you have a strong desire to change. If you don’t want to change, change will be slow in coming. Change means altering those aspects of your life that aren’t working for you any longer, or are contributing to your problems or ongoing issues. It is also best to keep an open mind while in therapy, and be willing to try out new things that ordinarily you may not do.
Individual therapy is not “one size fits all”. I blend a client-centered approach with a variety of evidence-based therapeutic approaches including CBT, DBT, Positive Psychology and Motivational Interviewing. My areas of expertise include substance abuse and behavioral addictions, relationships, anxiety, depression and life transitions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
CBT is a short-term, problem-focused form of behavioral treatment that helps people see the difference between beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, and free them from unhelpful patterns of behavior. CBT is grounded in the belief that it is a person’s perception of events – rather than the events themselves – that determines how they will feel and act in response. Numerous research studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life.
What we think, how we feel and how we behave are all closely connected – and all of these factors have a decisive influence on our well-being. The goal is to reveal and change false and distressing beliefs, because it is often not only the things and situations themselves that cause problems, but the importance that we attach to them as well. CBT helps people learn to replace negative or unhelpful thought patterns with more realistic and less harmful thoughts. CBT also helps you to find out whether certain behavioral patterns make your life difficult or intensify your problems and work on changing these behavioral habits.
CBT places an emphasis on helping individuals learn to be their own therapists. Through exercises in the session as well as “homework” exercises outside of sessions, patients/clients are helped to develop coping skills, whereby they can learn to change their own thinking, problematic emotions and behavior.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT):
DBT is another type of cognitive therapy that focuses on the balance between acceptance and change. DBT works with individuals to validate their pain and suffering while developing skills to make the changes needed to have a life worth living. The term “dialectical” refers to the philosophy of synthesizing two opposing perspectives or ideas that can exist simultaneously, such as acceptance and change.
DBT teaches clients four sets of behavioral skills: mindfulness; distress tolerance; interpersonal effectiveness; and emotion regulation.
- By practicing mindfulness, we become aware of our thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. We’re able to pause, check in, identify our emotions and consciously make healthy decisions.
- Distress tolerance skills have to do with the ability to accept, in a non-evaluative and nonjudgmental fashion, both oneself and the current situation. Although the stance advocated here is a nonjudgmental one, this does not mean that it is one of approval: acceptance of reality is not approval of reality. Distress tolerance behaviors are concerned with tolerating and surviving crises and with accepting life as it is in the moment.
- The interpersonal response patterns –how you interact with the people around you and in your personal relationships — that are taught in DBT skills training share similarities to those taught in some assertiveness and interpersonal problem-solving classes. These skills include effective strategies for asking for what one needs, how to assertively say ‘no,’ and learning to cope with inevitable interpersonal conflict.
- Emotion regulation skills teach clients how to manage negative and overwhelming emotions while increasing positive experiences. An important aspect of emotion regulation is understanding that negative emotions are not bad, or something that must be avoided. They are a normal part of life, but there are ways to acknowledge and then let go of these feelings so that one is not controlled by them.
The skills training in DBT is applicable to people with a wide range of mental health conditions to improve overall well-being, emotion management, and decrease negative emotions and distress.
CBT and DBT can help with:
- Panic attacks
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance dependency
- Anger management issues
Positive psychology focuses on strengths instead of weaknesses; building positive emotions, character strengths, and a sense of meaning in life. Positive psychology focuses on the positive events and influences in life, including positive experiences (like happiness, joy, inspiration, and love) and positive states and traits (like gratitude, resilience and compassion). Positive emotions have been found to fuel resilience in the face of adversity and can help support a foundation for a greater ability to resist downward spirals. In general, the greatest potential benefit of positive psychology is that it teaches us the power of shifting one’s perspective to maximize the potential for happiness in many of our everyday behaviors. Goals of Positive Psychology include:
- To positively impact your life—this is the primary goal, and all other goals feed indirectly into this.
- Increase your experience of positive emotions and cultivate your sense of happiness and well-being
- Help you identify and develop your strengths and unique talents to improve self-esteem
- Encourage you to determine our own goals and help you achieve them
- Build a sense of hope and nurture a sense of gratitude
- Help you build and maintain healthy, positive relationships
- Encourage optimism
Motivational Interviewing (MI):
MI is designed to empower people to change by drawing out their own meaning, importance and capacity for change. MI helps people become motivated to change the behaviors that are preventing them from making healthier choices. MI sees readiness to change as a dynamic process, in which the pros and cons of changing generates ambivalence and insecurities; one is stuck between simultaneously wanting to change and not wanting to change. Ambivalence is particularly evident in situations where there is conflict between an immediate reward and longer term adverse consequences (for example, substance abuse, behavioral addictions, weight management, chronic illness).
If you’re looking for help in improving your everyday life please reach out to me today for an assessment for individual therapy.