*Special thanks to UNSW for permission to link to their site and these great resources.
There is no 'one' type of counseling or therapy. Therapy treatment is influenced by many factors. One factor is the therapist’s belief about how people change and his/her role in assisting people. Another factor is the problem(s) you want to work on. Yet another relates to your own beliefs about change, your challenges and strengths. It can be interesting to learn more about the different therapies and the ideas about how people change. We’ve listed many of the common models with links for further information. Feel free to discuss any of the ideas below with your advisor.
Counseling and psychotherapy
People see a psychologist (counselor/therapist/clinician) for many diverse issues. Sometimes it is helpful to see a professional just once to ‘think out loud’; most often a few sessions is enough to feel better or clearer about your situation and identify next steps. Sometimes the issue may mean it takes more support.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a modern psychological intervention that applies mindfulness, acceptance processes, and commitment and behavior change process, to the creation of psychological flexibility.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy gets its name from one of its core messages: to accept what is out of your personal control, while committing to do whatever is in your personal control to improve your quality of life.
The aim of ACT is to help people create a rich full and meaningful life, while effectively handling the pain and stress that life inevitably brings.
ACT teaches you psychological skills to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings effectively – in such a way that they have much less impact and influence over you.
ACT also helps you to clarify what is truly important and meaningful to you, and use that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change your life for the better.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a type treatment that considers how cognitions, feelings, physical sensations and behaviors can interact to cause emotional, behavioral and psychiatric problems. CBT treatment varies depending on the problem, but is essentially a collaborative individualised program that helps to learn or relearn healthier skills and habits. For more information see:
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
IPT focuses on interpersonal issues. The difficulties arising in the daily experiencing of maintaining relationships and resolving challenges and how these issues impacting and interacting with psychological distress.
For more information click here.
Many of the mindfulness-based therapies are relatively new. These treatments incorporate mindfulness skills. Mindfulness is about learning to be aware of present moment experiences without reacting or judging the experience. Psychologists have long known that how we respond to a situation can make the situation worse or better. These skills can be learned independently of therapy, but can also compliment the treatment.
Motivational interviewing allows space in the therapy for the person to find and consider their own motivation, commitment and confidence to change. With this approach you may feel like you’re just having a conversation about what works and doesn’t work for you in your life and what you both need and want to do to change it.
Positive Psychology was part of a revolution in psychology. This was a significant shift away from diagnosis and symptoms (e.g. Depression, sleep disturbance) towards a focus on what factors contribute to flourishing in your life. This approach is part of what they call ‘strength focused’ how to nourish the best within yourself, to enhance your ability to love, study, work, and play.
Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic orientated therapies consider deeper levels of human experience. We are all impacted by early experiences in our life, both the significant and the routine. These early experiences often work within and through us in ways we simply cannot know or understand. This treatment can enable insight to assist one in more constructively managing these patterns as they represent.
Narrative therapy separates the person from the issue while focusing on the historical and socio-political context impacting the individual. The narrative therapist will assist you in using your inherent skills, competencies, beliefs and values to tell and retell your story. Through this process you re-author your while gaining understanding and reduce the influence of problems on your life.
Schema Therapy focuses on identifying core needs and feelings, schemas. The goal is to heal unhelpful schemas, break negative schema-driven life patterns and eventually find ways to get core emotional needs met in everyday life.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is a goal-focused approach to construct immediate life solutions. The therapist will work with you to articulate the preferred outcome, and then assist you in diminishing barriers to the desired outcome.
There are numerous interesting, and perhaps relevant counseling models, too many to list here. New therapies are focusing on current and evolutionary brain science, the importance of compassion and particularly self-compassion, and many others. There are also of course therapies that specialize on specific groups (children, couples, families, elderly) and problems (addictions to substances; behavioral addictions/compulsions like gambling, internet, gaming; eating disorders). Feel free to ask your advisor any questions you may have.