We do couples therapy from an Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) perspective. This is different than typical couple therapy which relies on giving advice and teaching communication strategies. EFT is the most effective form of couples therapy. Research is showing that with EFT 90% of couples improve after a brief period of EFT therapy (about 12 to 20 sessions) and 75% maintain their improvements two years after ending therapy.
In our work with couples through EFT, we help partners replace old fights and cycles with new, more positive conversations.
Some goals in couples therapy from this perspective include:
- Helping partners discover where they are stuck in their relationship
- How they each get blocked from relating well to their partner
- Understanding their own and their partner’s reactions and feelings
- Learn to catch those moments of negative reactivity and create new moments where they see and experience each other more compassionately
Relationship advice and strategies for negotiating conflict rarely are helpful long term for the strong emotions couples experience during the course of their relationship.
CBT stands for Cognitive Behaviorial Therapy. CBT is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy that works for many different types of problems. These include: anxiety, depression, panic, phobias (including agoraphobia and social phobia), stress, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bi-polar disorder, anger, low self-esteem and physical health problems, like chronic pain.
What is CBT?
CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT helps you understand:
- how you think about yourself, the world and other people
- how what you do affects your thoughts and feelings
- sometimes your thinking can actually increase and maintain anxiety and depression
Here is a great little video that helps to explain CBT:
EMDR stands for eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing. For starters, you can see that this very effective form of trauma processing therapy needs a new name!
The theory behind EMDR is that many psychological problems are the result of distressing life experiences which have not been stored in memory properly and are said to be “unprocessed”. EMDR helps you to process the problematic memories so that they do not get triggered for you leading the memory to replay itself over and over again causing distress and interfering with your life.
Here is a link that will give you helpful info about EMDR. I have used this with hundreds of adults and children who have experienced traumas such as combat ptsd, child-sexual abuse, witnessing/being exposed to terror attacks, and the trauma of betrayal-just to name a few.
Some of my clients have said to me, (after using EMDR to work thru their trauma) “I still remember it but it doesn’t have the same power it used to.” “I can see it still in my memory but the volume is turned down and it is kind of blurry.” In other words, the trauma stops having the same kind of power to interrupt your life.
ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention)
ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) is form of CBT that is the most effective treatment for OCD. I received intensive training in treating OCD from the International Obsessive Compulsive Foundation after one of my children was diagnosed with this anxiety disorder and I was unable to find a single therapist who knew how to treat it effectively.
In a nutshell, ERP therapy involves the person with OCD facing his or her fears and then refraining from ritualizing. This is extremely anxiety-provoking initially, but eventually the anxiety starts to wane and can sometimes even disappear. A concrete example of ERP therapy in action would involve someone with OCD who has issues with germs. They might be asked to touch door knob and then refrain from washing their hands. Gradually, the person learns that their anxiety decreases even though they don’t engage in the compulsive behavior. This is a really dramatic and freeing moment for them. It takes a lot of practice but most people are able to experience dramatic improvement in their symptoms.
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy uses traditional cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) methods and adds in newer psychological strategies such as mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. Cognitive methods can include educating the participant about depression and anxiety. Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation, focus on becoming aware of all incoming thoughts and feelings and accepting them, but not attaching or reacting to them.
The goal of MBCT is to interrupt the automatic processes that fuel anxiety/depression and teach the participants to focus less on reacting to incoming stimuli, and instead accepting and observing them without judgment.
Research additionally supports the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation upon reducing cravings for substances that people are addicted to. Addiction is known to involve the weakening of the prefrontal cortex that ordinarily allows for delaying of immediate gratification for longer term benefits by the limbic and paralimbic brain regions. Mindfulness meditation of smokers over a two-week period totaling five hours of meditation decreased smoking by about 60% and reduced their cravings, even for those smokers in the experiment who had no prior intentions to quit. Neuroimaging of those who practice mindfulness meditation has been shown to increase activity in the prefrontal cortex, a sign of greater self-control.
See this video that explains MBCT: