Modern Psychotherapy Techniques

I use psychotherapy as an essential treatment approach to help patients, and their families to make positive changes in their lives, by better understanding their attitudes, behaviors, emotions, memories, and thoughts. There are many types of psychotherapies, most of which have proven effectiveness . Like most experienced therapists, I commonly use elements of several psychotherapies during the process of treatment. Descriptions of some of the most commonly used therapy techniques are provided below for your consideration.


Psychodynamic Insight Oriented Psychotherapy And Psychoanalysis

The goal of this therapy is to increase emotional awareness, and to become a more mindful person. It shares the premise that behavior is disturbed in some manner because of inadequate awareness of feelings, beliefs, motivations, and desires. This approach to therapy also assumes some of these problems are due to faulty assumptions, and thoughts, due to less conscious, or unconscious past life experiences.

Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy

This therapy identifies distorted ways we interpret events, and helps to diminish negative attitudes, beliefs, thoughts, memories, and sensations. The goal is to help recognize, and change negative thinking styles, and wrongful conclusion making that triggers negative emotions.

Cognitive Behavior Psychotherapy For Insomnia

According to preliminary studies, this application of cognitive behavior psychotherapy may diminish insomnia in 40-50% of patients, and in depressed patients, enhances the benefits of antidepressant medications. As with CBT, self-defeating assumptions (“I’ll never be able to sleep again”), are challenged. Likewise, complementary ideas, such as stimulus control (breaking the association between being in bed, and activities like watching TV or movies, playing with a computing device, eating, and doing paperwork), sleep restriction (setting a regular sleep interval), and common sense ideas, such as making the room quiet, dark, of the right temperature, avoiding caffeine, alcohol and large meals close to bedtime.

Acceptance And Commitment Psychotherapy

Instead of trying to control, and quickly eliminate upsetting attitudes, beliefs, feelings, thoughts, memories, sensations or other private events, this therapy encourages you to just notice, experience, and ultimately accept unwanted moments, as part of life. The goal is not to overly analyze your experiences, allow thoughts to come, and go without struggling with them, and to appreciate the here, and now.

Dialectical Behavioral Psychotherapy

This therapy was first developed to help patients with a history of suicidal thinking, suicide attempts and other forms of self-injury. This therapy helps patients to learn how to more effectively bear emotional pain, increase distress tolerance, and to capably, and calmly recognize current, and developing bad situations, rather than hiding from them, ignoring them, and ultimately becoming overwhelmed by them. The goal is to make wiser decisions when distressed, and not to fall automatically into desperate, and disorganized states, and engaging in destructive, impulsive behaviors.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

This therapy addresses relationship problems in life. Problem areas may be classified as role transitions (associated with stressful life events, and changes in status), grief (working through grief, letting go, learning to move on), role conflict (e.g., in a marriage, as a stepparent), or interpersonal deficits (inadequate social connections to help cope with stressful life events).

Supportive Psychotherapy

This therapy focuses on strengthening coping skills that already exist, but may have been forgotten. The objective of this therapy is to remember, remind oneself of, and once again embrace learned problem solving strategies that worked in the past.

Behavioral Psychotherapy

This therapy is predicated upon the idea that our behaviors do not occur in a vacuum, but are triggered by outside events, that either please or punish us. An event that encourages you to do something again, is called a reinforcers, and an event that discourages from doing something again, is called a punisher. People who are very anxious, distressed or depressed, often have not yet discovered rewarding behaviors, and persist in conscious or unconscious punishing behaviors.

Positive Psychology Psychotherapies

Positive psychotherapy embodies the idea that people are more often, drawn to thinking about future potentials, rather than the past experiences. This therapy is focused on working with positive experiences, positive psychological traits, positive relationships, and positive institutions. Important strategies include, achieving states of pleasure or flow, identifying, and focusing on your strengths, virtues, talents, and remaining true to your values.

Gestalt Psychotherapy

This therapy motivates people to take meaningful action, and talk less about plans. Experiments are created in the therapy for the patient to carry out. The focus then becomes, what is actually happening, what is being talked about, and what is being done at that moment, rather than on what was, might be, could be, should have been. These active behavioral experiments lead patients to greater awareness, and a fuller experience of their possibilities.

Existential Psychotherapy

This is a philosophical method of therapy, that deals with inner conflicts associated with the “givens”, like the inevitability of death, isolation in life, the increased responsibilities that come with freedom, and the ongoing challenge to keep meaning and purpose in life. These “givens”, also referred to as our “ultimate concerns”, affect all of us, and predictably create tension in life.

Person Centered Psychotherapy

In this treatment, the therapist attempts to create a comfortable, non-judgmental environment, while demonstrating genuineness, empathy, and positive regard towards their patient. As a consequence patients often do not have to be directed where to go, and often find their own solutions to problems.

Mindfulness and Imagery Based Stress Reduction Therapy

Mindfulness based stress reduction therapy is sustained moment-to-moment awareness of emotional states, thoughts, perception, images, and physical sensations. Mindfulness practices encourage paying attention to current mental, and physical experiences without over thinking, comparing, or evaluating them. It is the practice of just the careful, relaxed, natural observation of things that come into conscious awareness.

Muscle Relaxation Therapy

This approach to wellness involves learning to lower mental and physical activation by reducing stress triggered muscle tensing. This is typically accomplished by purposely tensing, then relaxing muscle groups from head downward to toe.

Biofeedback Therapy

This is a therapy that uses special equipment to help teach patients how to gain control over certain bodily functions. Some of these bodily functions include brainwave activity, skin activity, muscle tension, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and the experience of pain. Electrodes are often placed on the scalp, fingers, wrists, and hands to measure, and track bodily activity.


Hypnotherapy is a psychotherapy used to create healthy changes in attitudes, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, by less than conscious awareness. During the state of hypnosis, people achieve heightened concentration, and focus on thoughts or memories, while blocking out mental distractions, and chatter. Ideally, a person under hypnosis becomes more motivated, suggestible, and receptive to changing behaviors.

Sex Therapy

Sex therapy treats problems such as, low sexual desire, premature ejaculation, difficulties with arousal such as erectile dysfunction or difficulty lubricating, painful sex, inability to achieve desired orgasm, unwanted sexual fetishes, sexual addiction, and lack of sexual confidence. This therapy also, helps victims of sexual assault or abuse, and other sexual problems caused by stress, fatigue, and relationship issues. Sex therapy helps people to regain more active, and satisfying sexual lives.

Meditation Therapy

Meditation is a practice used to help the mind to achieve a state of peaceful mental consciousness. Meditation often involves an effort to calm, empty the mind, and remove “mental chatter.” Meditation can help clear the mind of undesired mental activity, and help ease depression, anxiety, and distress. It may involve closing the eyes, sitting still, and repeating a mantra. By calming the mind in this manner, greater awareness of, and consideration of more important life issues may be attained.

Self-Management Strategies for Bipolar Disorders

  • Sleep, rest, diet, and, exercise
  • Regular monitoring and adjustment of medication
  • Reflective, meditative, religious, and spiritual practices
  • Understanding bipolar disorder, and educating others
  • Connecting with others

Motivational Interviewing During Psychotherapy

Motivational interviewing is a style of conversation in psychotherapy that pays particular attention to the language a patient uses, that hints at their readiness for change. It is designed to strengthen personal motivation for, and commitment to to a healthy new goal, by helping a person to describe their own reasons for wanting change. It makes a particular use of open questions that encourage a person to reflect, and elaborate. The four key processes of motivational interviewing are: engaging, i.e. establishing a helpful connection with a patient, focusing, i.e. developing, and maintaining a specific direction in the conversation about change, evoking, i.e. drawing out the patient’s own motivation for change, and planning, i.e. developing a commitment to change, and creating a clear plan of action.

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