Therapeutic Techniques

Our therapists and psychologists are trained in a wide variety of psychotherapeutic interventions. A client’s comprehensive, multi-modal treatment plan may include one or more of the approaches discussed below.

Formulating a Comprehensive Multi-Modal Treatment Plan

A mental health care provider may assess a client in many different ways, such as an interview, obtaining background information from medical records or school records (for which the client has signed a consent form), administering questionnaires, or by using other, more formal psychological test materials. Assessment may also include interviews with a spouse, significant other, or parent(s). Using that information, the provider then makes an initial diagnosis and creates a treatment plan that might include one or more of the following:

Specific Treatment Approaches

Your mental health care provider may use any one or a combination of the following psychotherapeutic interventions. Signing a written treatment plan is part of the process of entering treatment, and the treatment plan will contain reference to the treatment approaches described below.
  1. Behavior therapy or behavior modification – treatment focusing on changing specific behavior through the use of positive or negative external consequences. Parent guidance therapy often includes a component of training in behavior modification, for parents to use to help their children decrease negative behaviors (temper tantrums) and increase positive behaviors (obedience to adult directions). Behavior therapy techniques can also be an important component of weight loss or weight management, as well as treatment of addictions. Behavior therapy is a well-documented and researched system of intervention that has been used clinically for over 55 years.
  2. Biological intervention – psychiatric medications have been used effectively to treat many mental health disorders since the 1950s. Medications work directly with brain chemistry, to correct underlying imbalances that create depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and other symptoms. Other biological interventions with proven effectiveness in the treatment of mental health disorders include exercise, yoga, massage therapy and relaxation techniques.
  3. Cognitive therapy – a treatment approach first utilized in the late 1960s that focuses on helping people change their inner thoughts and views/interpretations of events. Cognitive therapy has been broadly and thoroughly researched, and is internationally accepted as an effective treatment, particularly for anxiety and depression. By changing one’s beliefs and internal self-talk, one can change problematic behaviors and reduce symptoms of distress.
  4. Co-parenting therapy – a specialty area of couples therapy, in which separated or divorced parents meet together to build a calm, business-like relationship. Successful co-parenting therapy will enable parents to work together to raise their children effectively. Effective strategies for co-parenting therapy have been studied by professionals for the past 20 years.
  5. Couples therapy – first developed in the 1950s, couples therapy enables two persons in an intimate relationship to build improved communication skills, learn to negotiate agreements and resolve conflicts, and work through issues of emotional hurt and forgiveness.
  6. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) – developed in the past 20 years and rigorously researched, DBT teaches a variety of skills to enable one to better regulate emotions and reduce symptoms of distress via a combination of Western psychological traditions and Eastern meditative techniques.
  7. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) – EMDR has developed over the past 25 years as a treatment method to resolve trauma-related disorders. The theoretical foundation of EMDR proposes that overwhelming memories of distressing events are inadequately processed by the brain, then dysfunctionally stored in an isolated memory network. The goal of EMDR therapy is to more fully process the distressing memories and to reduce their maladaptive impact on the individual’s emotions and behaviors. The International Society of Stress Studies has categorized EMDR as an evidence-based, level A treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in adults.
  8. Family therapy – first developed in the 1950s, family therapy involves meetings with an entire household or family in order to support development of better communication skills, to break out of harmful patterns of interaction between family members, and to build nurturing and health-promoting family relations in which all family members are respected. Aspects of authority, power and control in family functioning are often addressed during family therapy.
  9. Group therapy – first developed in the 1960s, there are two main types of group therapy: process-oriented and skill building. Process-oriented group therapy helps people build new social behaviors by focusing on the pattern of interactions between members of a therapy group. Skill building group therapy has an educational component, in which the group leader describes or demonstrates specific actions that group members can learn to reduce their symptoms of distress or change their behaviors in home and work settings. Group therapy has been shown to be particularly effective in recovery from addictions and anger management, and is increasingly recognized as an effective intervention for parent guidance counseling.
  10. Parent guidance therapy – first developed by the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic in the 1940s, this type of treatment enables parents to build needed skills in order to raise their child/ren more effectively and with less parent-child conflict. May include, but is not limited to, education about child development, special needs children, positive communication and behavior modification.
  11. Play therapy – first developed in the 1940s, this therapeutic technique is used primarily with children under age 10. Toys, games and other nonverbal materials are used to help the child express and work through problematic emotions or traumatic events. Music therapy and art therapy are allied interventions and outgrowths of play therapy.
  12. Spiritually integrated therapy –this technique supports the client in drawing on his/her unique spiritual beliefs to promote mental health and recovery. May include use of spiritual texts and/or prayer. May be used with all spiritual or religious traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Islam. Research on the effectiveness of spiritually integrated psychotherapy has received increasing attention in the past 10 years.