Below are some of the treatment methods used in therapy:

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic Theory assumes that feelings too painful to face may be submerged in the unconscious mind. People develop defenses (such as denial) early in life to protect themselves from experiencing the pain. Later they may find that these defenses are no longer working effectively.

The psychodynamic therapist focuses on trying to bring unconscious thoughts and feelings to the surface in order to help release painful feelings. It assumes that as clients become aware of what is really going on in their subconscious minds, the pain can be alleviated. The therapist then helps them develop more effective ways to cope.

Joanne complained of difficulty allowing herself to become close to her boyfriend. She had been physically molested in childhood by her father and had suppressed the memory at the time because it was too painful. She learned to keep herself safe by keeping a distance from her dad.

As she grew older, she generalized her feelings about her dad to men in general and would maintain an emotional distance from the men she dated. Periodically she would have flashbacks and nightmares. In uncovering the trauma and realizing that she now had more power to keep herself safe, she learned that she could risk getting closer to her boyfriend who, unlike her father, was a kind and gentle person.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy presumes that problems are caused by irrational thoughts. The belief is that focusing on problems, failures, and negative self-talk causes depression. Cognitive therapists teach techniques to correct negative thinking. An example of a core technique would be countering negative thoughts with positive ones; for example, replacing the distorted belief, “I’m powerless; I’m a victim of outside circumstances” with “I’m responsible and in control of my life. I may not control all the circumstances, but I can determine my attitude toward them and choose my response.”

Clients who suffer from anxiety learn positive ways of thinking to calm themselves when they get anxious. They can also develop skills for dealing with difficulty in social interactions. There are written exercises and homework assignments to reinforce the learnings.

George had been criticized a lot by his perfectionist mother, and as an adult he suffered from anxiety and depression. He, too, became a perfectionist and set unreasonable standards for himself. George kept himself depressed by telling himself he was a failure and didn’t deserve to be happy. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, George learned to replace his destructive thinking with a more realistic positive view of himself. He stopped labeling himself, and started focusing on what he did right, and with this change he began to experience more success and a feeling of well-being.

Mind-Body Therapy

Mind-Body Therapy (also called Somatic Therapy) focuses on the relationship between the mind and the body. When emotional pain is not relieved, it is stored in the body and can eventually affect one’s health. Thoughts and feelings affect the body and the body impacts the mind and emotions.

The somatic therapist brings attention to the body. For example, the therapist might ask, “When you say that, where do you feel tension in your body?” The body contains a great deal of wisdom. This technique enables one to work at a deep level and access information from the body to help one heal. Focusing on body sensations can increase awareness of feelings and memories buried beneath the surface and release them. Healing through mind-body therapy can improve physical as well as emotional health.

Eddie was taught to be strong and avoid vulnerable emotions. Instead he would experience burning in his arms. He was unaware of what was causing it until, through therapy, he focused on the burning sensation and what it was trying to say to him. Then the meaning would come up to his conscious awareness, and as it did, the burning would diminish. From time to time, he would feel tension or discomfort in other parts of his body, and as he was able to focus on these areas, the emotions and thoughts behind the sensations became clear. As he learned to read his body, he was able to cope more consciously with his emotions and release them.

An effective mind-body technique called Anchoring is helpful in overcoming phobias, such as in public speaking, driving over bridges, flying, etc. Anchoring involves pairing a client’s use of the senses to imagine a safe or happy place with an anxiety-producing situation, resulting in reduced anxiety relating to the upsetting event.

Roger, who had a terrible fear of public speaking, was scheduled to speak on a stage in front of a huge audience. After doing Anchoring for one session, he was able to perform successfully without overwhelming anxiety.

Mind-Body therapy can also include meditation and visualization exercises that clients find calming and healing. They are then able to use them at home to soothe themselves.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR theory suggests that when disturbing events occur in a client’s life, they may become so overwhelmed that their brain is unable to process the information in the usual way. The trauma and all the accompanying images, thoughts, emotions, and body sensations can get locked in the nervous system causing nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, etc.

EMDR unlocks the nervous system and releases painful experiences. While focusing on the disturbing issue, both sides of the brain are stimulated through eye movement, sound, or tapping. It enables the brain to reprocess the information so that the event can be recalled without the disturbing feelings. Research indicates that EMDR is very effective in helping people process emotionally traumatic experiences. It has also been shown to help clients cope with negative belief systems, grief or loss, anxiety, and panic attacks, as well as help them with development of inner resources and performance enhancement.

June, a client who was afraid to drive on highways after being in a traumatic accident on Route I-95, underwent EMDR, and was not only able to resume driving on highways but over time she was also able to drive calmly past the same area where the accident had occurred. She stopped having flashbacks and regained confidence in herself as a driver.

Energy Therapy

Energy Therapy addresses disturbances in the electromagnetic energy field that runs through and around the body. Over 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered twelve major acupuncture meridians in the body that have since been measured and mapped by modern technological methods. Energy Therapy is based on the belief that the energy must flow freely through these meridians for optimum mental, emotional, and physical health.

The goal of Energy Therapy is to balance and free blocked energy in the body. There are a wide variety of energy techniques, some of which include working with meridians, acupressure points, chakras, and the biofield. Energy Therapy helps to produce change gently and quickly. Clinical reports suggest that Energy Therapy has been especially effective with trauma, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and phobias. It helps eliminate negative belief systems that interfere with learning, positive self-esteem, and performance. Clients can learn to use the techniques themselves so that they can treat issues on their own in the future.

After an operation on his spine, Richard suffered from balance and walking difficulties. He fell frequently and there were times when just getting up from a seated position was awkward. Feeling embarrassed and ashamed at the way he appeared to others, he began to withdraw socially. Following Energy Therapy to treat his negative feelings regarding his condition, Richard no longer felt ashamed or embarrassed and was able to connect comfortably and confidently with other people who then responded warmly to him.

Psycho-Spiritual Therapy

Psycho-Spiritual Therapy assumes that a person has within them the wisdom to heal and grow. Accessing that inner wisdom and universal power helps them become their best self, the self they were meant to be. This therapy integrates the mysteries of the heart, mind, and soul, and explores how thoughts, feelings, and beliefs affect emotional and spiritual well-being.

Clients are guided to focus inward to experience their core self, to listen to their souls and to find their personal truth. They are encouraged to explore what will make life fulfilling and give it meaning. Some of the techniques used include visualization, inner focusing, accessing higher wisdom, and meditation.

Marge said she was experiencing a crisis of the soul. Her father had recently passed away and she became fearful of dying. She felt cut off from her religion and obsessed over what happened after death. Through Psycho-Spiritual Therapy, Marge was able to focus on her inner wisdom. She understood how she became disconnected from her faith, overcame her fears, and found inner peace, despite ambiguity about the future.

Imago Relationship Therapy

Imago Relationship Therapy assumes that developmental wounds in childhood affect how a person connects in relationships. It was originated by Harville Hendricks, who wrote about how frustrations originate from unmet childhood needs, and how people unknowingly try to resolve them with coping methods learned in childhood, ways that are not always beneficial in the present.

Imago Relationship Therapy teaches effective communication skills that enable clients to dialogue empathically and effectively with their partners, increase compassion for each other, let go of self-defeating behaviors, and learn new ways to meet each other’s needs. Clients work to heal past wounds that impact their present-day relationships. The therapy setting presents a safe place to practice new skills in communicating directly with a partner with the therapist’s guidance.

When Judy and Milt began therapy, they were each focused on what the other was doing wrong to cause friction in their relationship. Judy said she didn’t feel heard or responded to by Milt. Milt said he didn’t feel safe or loved by Judy. Their tolerance for each other was low and they were discouraged about hopes for their marriage. Through Imago Therapy, they came to realize that Milt learned to cope with his mother’s erratic and screaming behavior by tuning her out and he transferred that way of coping to dealing with Judy. Milt was encouraged to try other ways to cope as Judy learned to be less critical and make the relationship a safer place for Milt to express himself. Judy came from a critical family that openly expressed themselves. Her fear of seeming weak led her to be overbearing and afraid to be wrong. They learned how to dialogue together in an empathic, safe manner and to focus on what they valued in the other person. They completed therapy feeling very close and warm toward each other.

Note: Names have been changed to protect clients’ confidentiality.