Compassion Focused Therapy is the overarching framework of my therapeutic approach. This framework is built on evolutionary, neuroscience, and social psychology roots, and the neurophysiology of caring (i.e., attachment). CFT believes caring behavior towards the self and others has major regulatory and developmental functions. The central focus of CFT is to concentrate on helping patients relate to past and present suffering in compassionate ways, as well as providing them with effective tools to work with challenging circumstances and emotions they encounter.
CFT helps patients learn how to engage with their struggles with kindness and acceptance, thereby aiding themselves in feeling confident enough to accomplish difficult tasks and deal with challenging situations. CFT is especially appropriate for people who have high levels of shame and self-criticism and who have difficulty in feeling warmth toward, and being kind to, themselves or others.
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, an evidence-based, safe, and research-supported approach to helping clients recover from traumatic or distressing experiences.
EMDR can also be helpful for depression, anxiety, attachment injuries, phobias, disordered eating, shame, self-worth, chronic pain, and other forms of nervous system activation/under-activation.
It's important to understand EMDR isn't just a technique but an entire approach to therapy. and so it's different from traditional talk therapy. Usually, EMDR is very structured and follows an overall eight-phase process - how quickly clients repeat and move through this process varies from case to case.
The EMDR approach is a body-mind integrated therapy that draws on elements from cognitive, behavioral, humanistic, body-based, psychodynamic, and contemplative models. The S.A.F.E. version of EMDR also incorporates an attachment and sensorimotor approach. The "eye movement" part of the name stems from the use of dual attention stimulus (DAS), which is part of the body-based technique. During DAS, a trained therapist guides the client through eye movements, tones, or taps in order to move an incorrectly stored memory to a more functional part of the brain.
When something traumatic or distressing occurs, our brain may process and store memories incorrectly in order to protect us in the present moment. This incorrect storage can lead to past memories feeling very present when we think of them today. Related or unrelated stimuli in the present can lead to clients reacting as they did at the time of the distressing event - the brain feels as if the past disturbing event is happening now. EMDR therapy corrects this so the painful memories associated with the trauma lose their charge and the client can react to stimuli in the present without the past interfering. And, the great thing about EMDR is that clients don't have to narrate their traumatic or distressing story as you might do in traditional talk therapy, which reduces the risk of re-activating the memory and re-traumatizing the client. Once EMDR is complete, the outcomes create room for new choices, beliefs, and pathways forward in life.
TF-CBT stands for trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, which is designed for use with children who've experienced traumatic and distressing experiences. CPT is cognitive processing therapy, which is the version of TF-CBT for adults. Both of these modalities are highly researched and evidence-based approaches to safe and effective trauma treatment.
Unlike more free-flowing talk therapy, CPT is a highly structured and manualized approach to trauma treatment that occurs over a span of 12 sessions. This approach tends to work well for patients who want to tell or write their story and are struggling with unhelpful thoughts and beliefs due to the trauma or distress experience. However, there is also a version of CPT that eliminates the story-telling portion.
The NARM model looks at attachment ruptures during critical periods of development in order to understand the resulting physical, emotional, and behavioral survivial strategies - strategies that were protective and adaptive in the past but perhaps unhelpful in the present. Some of these strategies include depression, anxiety, anger, avoidance, over-thinking, etc. NARM is strengths-focused and non-pathologizing, working with unconscious patterns of disconnection that deeply affect our identity, emotions, physiology, behavior, and relationships
NARM holds that while what happened in the past is significant, it is not what happened in the past that creates the symptoms that people experience as adults - rather, it is the persistence of survival styles appropriate to the past that distort present experience and creates symptoms. These survival patterns, having outlived their usefulness, create ongoing disconnection from our authentic self and from others.
Forward-Facing Therapy follows an empowerment and resiliency treatment structure that incorporates relationship building, psychoeducation and self-regulation skills, trauma resolution and monitoring, and post-traumatic growth and resiliency building. Altogether, this lowers stress symptoms, enhances quality of life and well-being, and habituates patients to their stories so those stories are no longer stressful. Trauma resolution occurs through narrative exposure, which is somewhat similar to CPT.
While Forward-Facing Therapy is a protocol for addressing and resolving traumatic stress, it is equally effective for developing stress-management, resilience and optimization skills for all clients.