Psychotherapy Approaches

I have been trained in, and I am familiar with, various psychotherapy approaches from which I choose to determine, with my clients, which is best suited for their identified problems/concerns, personality, goals and financial means. Frequently, I use a combination of these approaches.

“Depth Psychotherapy” Approaches

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is form of depth psychotherapy, the primary focus of which is to reveal the unconscious content of a client's psyche in an effort to alleviate psychic tension. In this way, it is similar to psychoanalysis. It also relies on the interpersonal relationship between client and therapist more than other forms of depth psychology. This form of therapy uses psychoanalysis adapted to a less intensive style of working, usually at a frequency of once or twice per week.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: closely follows the principles of psychoanalysis which is a set of psychological and psychotherapeutic theories and associated techniques that has the following basic tenants: 1) a person's development is determined by often forgotten events in early childhood rather than by inherited traits alone; 2) human attitude, mannerism, experience, and thought is largely influenced by irrational drives that are rooted in the unconscious, 3) it is necessary to bypass psychological resistance in the form of defense mechanisms when bringing drives into awareness; 4) conflicts between the conscious and the unconscious, or with repressed material can materialize in the form of mental or emotional disturbances, for example: neurosis, neurotic traits, anxiety, depression, etc.; 5) liberating the elements of the unconscious is achieved through bringing this material into the conscious mind (via e.g. skilled guidance, i.e. therapeutic intervention).

Analytical psychology, also called Jungian psychology, is a school of psychotherapy, which originated in the ideas of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist. It emphasizes the importance of the individual psyche and the personal quest for wholeness. Dream analysis and understanding of symbolic communication from the unconscious is a focus. Important concepts in Jung's system are individuation, symbols, the personal unconscious, the collective unconscious, archetypes, complexes, the persona, the id, ego, and super-ego, the shadow, the anima and animus, and the self.

Body Centered Psychotherapy

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a form of therapy aimed at relieving and resolving the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical trauma-related health problems by focusing on the client’s perceived body sensations (or somatic experiences). It was introduced in Peter Levine's 1997 book Waking the Tiger in which he discusses at length his observations of animals in the wild, and how they deal with and recover from life-threatening situations. He concludes that their behaviour gives us "an insight into the biological healing process" (p. 98), and that "the key to healing traumatic symptoms in humans lies in our being able to mirror the fluid adaption of wild animals" (p. 17-18) as they avoid traumatization in reacting to life-threatening situations. SE is based on the understanding that symptoms of trauma are the result of a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) whose inherent capacity to self-regulate is undermined by trauma. SE bases its approach on mammals' ability to automatically regulate survival responses from the primitive, non-verbal brain, mediated by the autonomic nervous system. In the wild, animals spontaneously "discharge" this excess energy once safe. Involuntary movements such as shaking, trembling and deep spontaneous breaths reset the ANS and restore equilibrium. SE restores this capacity to self-regulate by facilitating the release of energy and natural survival reactions stored during a traumatic event. According to founder Peter Levine, "Trauma lives in the body, not the event."

Mindfulness Based Therapies

Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MCBT), and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

I will summarize my use of these methods as follows. Pain, like fear, brings up the impulse to blame or turn against someone (ourselves or others). The mind has several habits and strategies that have adaptive functions that do not always serve the reality of our lives. The brain is primed to avoid pain and reward pleasure, and as such tends to create patterns of responses that get entrenched. This leads to a distortion of reality that we come to believe as the true story when in fact it is often more like being in a movie that we find irresistible despite having seen it multiple times. The mind becomes more interested in the past and the future, then in what is actually taking place in the moment. The mind recreates the story thereby coming between us and the direct experience of what is taking place around us and of who we are. The first movement toward being mindful is to be willing to observe. People can get intimidated by the idea of clearing their mind of all thoughts. That is not necessary. By observing and slowing down, the observer in you can learn to have no reaction to the story telling of the mind. In therapy, we explore various ways to create distance from the pull of the mind and to develop a space in which there is room for direct experience without interpretation. This helps accessing a sense of peace that rests in the moment (in the now).


EMDR: Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro that emphasizes disturbing memories as the cause of psychopathology. It is used to help with the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to Shapiro, when a traumatic or distressing experience occurs, it may overwhelm normal coping mechanisms. The memory and associated stimuli are inadequately processed and stored in an isolated memory network. The goal of EMDR is to reduce the long-lasting effects of distressing memories by developing more adaptive coping mechanisms. The therapy uses an eight-phase approach that includes having the patient recall distressing images while receiving one of several types of bilateral sensory input, such as side to side eye movements. EMDR was originally developed to treat adults with PTSD; however, it is also used to treat other conditions and children.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy. It was originally designed to treat depression, but is now used for a number of mental disorders. It works to solve current problems and change unhelpful thinking and behavior. Most therapists working with patients dealing with anxiety and depression use a blend of cognitive and behavioral therapy. This technique acknowledges that there may be behaviors that cannot be controlled through rational thought, but rather emerge based on prior conditioning from the environment and other external and/or internal stimuli. CBT is "problem-focused" (undertaken for specific problems) and "action-oriented" (therapist tries to assist the client in selecting specific strategies to help address those problems), or directive in its therapeutic approach. Behaviorists believe that disorders, such as depression, have to do with the relationship between a feared stimulus and an avoidance response, resulting in a conditioned fear. Cognitive therapists believed that conscious thoughts could influence a person’s behavior all on its own. Ultimately, the two theories were combined to create what is now known as cognitive behavioral therapy. Many CBT treatment programs have been evaluated for symptom-based diagnoses and been favored over approaches such as psychodynamic treatments. However, other researchers have questioned the validity of such claims to superiority over other treatments.

Note: Definitions were edited from Wikipedia.