These are the types of therapies that integrate into, and influence my approach, to working with people.


Internal Family Systems (IFS) is the approach I often suggest for use in sessions. It serves as a guide and offers a structured approach to the work. IFS is an evidence based practice supported by research studies. IFS identifies and addresses multiple sub-personalities or internal families existing within each person’s mental system. For example, have you ever found yourself thinking or saying “A part of me knows that I shouldn’t act out this behavior, but another part of me loves the feeling I get when I do.” Your inner dialogue is created by these sub-personalities. They consist of wounded parts and painful emotions such as  anger  and  shame , and parts that try to control and protect the person from the pain of the wounded parts. The sub-personalities are often in conflict with each other and with one’s core Self, a concept that describes the confident, compassionate, courageous, creative, connected whole person that is at the core of every individual. IFS focuses on loving the protector parts, healing the wounded parts, and restoring mental balance and harmony by changing the dynamics that create discord among the sub-personalities and the Self. When the parts are in less extreme roles doing what they were meant to do, and the Self is leading, you will notice less problematic thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, and emotions.


An evidence based best practice for mental health counseling. CBT helps people problem-solve. CBT also reveals the relationship between beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, and the behaviors that follow. Through CBT, people learn that their perceptions directly influence how they respond to specific situations. In other words, a person’s thought process informs their behaviors and actions. CBT is not a distinct treatment technique. Instead, it is a general term which refers to a group of therapies. These therapies have certain similarities in therapeutic methodology. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy is grounded in the belief that how a person perceives events determines how they will act. It is not the events themselves that determine the person’s actions or feelings. For example, a person with anxiety may believe that “everything will turn out badly today.” These negative thoughts may influence their focus. They may then only perceive negative things that happen. Meanwhile, they may block out or avoid thoughts or actions that could disprove the negative belief system. Afterward, when nothing appears to go right in the day, the person may feel even more anxious than before. The negative belief system may get stronger. The person is at risk of being trapped in a vicious, continuous cycle of anxiety. 

Cognitive behavioral therapists believe we can adjust our thoughts. This is thought to directly influence our emotions and behavior. The adjustment process is called cognitive restructuring. Aaron T. Beck is the psychiatrist widely considered to be the father of cognitive therapy. He believed a person’s thinking pattern may become established in childhood. He found that certain cognitive errors could lead to depressogenic or dysfunctional assumptions.

The cognitive behavioral process is based on an educational model. People in therapy are helped to unlearn negative reactions and learn new ones. These are positive reactions to challenging situations. CBT helps break down overwhelming problems into small, manageable parts. Therapists help people set and reach short-term goals. Then the therapist gradually adjusts how the person in treatment thinks, feels, and reacts in tough situations. Changing attitudes and behaviors can help people learn to address specific issues in productive ways.

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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) provides clients with new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas. First, mindfulness focuses on improving an individual’s ability to accept and be present in the current moment. Second, distress tolerance is geared toward increasing a person’s tolerance of negative emotion, rather than trying to escape from it. Third, emotion regulation covers strategies to manage and change intense emotions that are causing problems in a person’s life. Fourth, interpersonal effectiveness consists of techniques that allow a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and strengthens relationships.

As its name suggests, DBT is influenced by the philosophical perspective of dialectics: balancing opposites. The therapist consistently works with the individual to find ways to hold two seemingly opposite perspectives at once, promoting balance and avoiding black and white—the all-or-nothing styles of thinking. In service of this balance, DBT promotes a both-and rather than an either-or outlook. The dialectic at the heart of DBT is acceptance and change.

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Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a directive, person-centered approach to therapy that focuses on improving an individual’s motivation to change. Those who engage in self-destructive behaviors may often be ambivalent or have little motivation to change such behaviors, despite acknowledging the negative impact of said behaviors on health, family life, or social functioning.

The primary goal of MET is to help individuals overcome their ambivalence or resistance to behavior change. MET focuses on increasing intrinsic motivation by raising awareness of a problem, adjusting any self-defeating thoughts regarding the problem, and increasing confidence in one’s ability to change. Instead of identifying a problem and telling a person in therapy what to do about it, the therapist encourages a person in therapy to make self-motivating statements that display a clear understanding of the problem and a resolve to change.  

Although MET may be used as a stand-alone treatment, it is more often employed in conjunction with other forms of therapy. This type of therapy can also serve as a form of pretreatment that may increase a person’s motivation to start a more specific form of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. MET might also be used along with a different form of therapy to reinforce one’s motivation to change.

Source: Retrieved