Individual Therapy

Individual Therapy, as well as other therapies, is appropriate when a person has feelings or behaviors which cause them discomfort or problems in their daily living activities.

Individual Therapy provides a confidential one-on-one contact between an individual and one of our experienced therapists. These therapy sessions address a variety of clinical problems ranging from mild adjustment disorders to more treatment-intensive disorders requiring a combination of medication and psychotherapy.  Common problems that are frequently treated with individual therapy include disorders of childhood and adolescence, anxiety disorders, stress related physiological disorders, depression, and disorders associated with exposure to traumatic situations.

There are a variety of types of individual therapy utilized at Behavior Management Associates from which you and your therapist may choose.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of treatment that focuses on examining the relationships between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. By exploring patterns of thinking that lead to self-destructive actions and the beliefs that direct these thoughts, people with behavior or emotional problems can modify their patterns of thinking to improve coping.  People who seek CBT can expect their therapist to be problem-focused, and goal-directed in addressing the challenging symptoms of mental distress. Because CBT is an active intervention, one can also expect to do homework or practice outside of sessions.

CBT is a class of interventions and techniques with wide application and demonstrated efficacy in treating many psychological disorders. By a wide margin, CBT has more evidence from well-controlled research showing that it works for specified disorders than any other treatment. For example, according to a review article in 2001 (Chambless & Ollendick, 2001), approximately 80% of the treatments for specific disorders (for both adults and children) characterized as having research support fall within the CBT class. Hence, CBT predominates among empirically supported treatments (ESTs) for particular disorders including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, sleep disorders and psychotic disorders. CBT has been shown to be as useful as antidepressant medications for some individuals with depression and may be superior in preventing relapse of symptoms.  Studies have shown that CBT actually changes brain activity in people with emotional difficulties who receive this treatment, suggesting that the brain is actually improving its functioning as a result of engaging in this form of therapy.

Psychodynamic Therapy, also known as insight-oriented therapy, focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in a person’s present behavior. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are a client’s self-awareness and understanding of the influence of the past on present behavior.   Psychodynamic therapy aims to help clients become aware of and experience their vulnerable feelings which have been pushed out of conscious awareness. The psychodynamic approach states that everyone has an unconscious which may hold and harbor painful and vulnerable feelings which are too difficult for the person to be consciously aware of. In order to keep painful feelings, memories, and experiences in the unconscious, people tend to develop defense mechanisms, such as denial, repression, rationalization, and others. According to psychodynamic theory, these defenses cause more harm than good and that once the vulnerable or painful feelings are processed the defense mechanisms reduce or resolve.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is effective for a wide range of mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety, panic and stress-related physical ailments, and the benefits of the therapy grow after treatment has ended, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.  Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the psychological roots of emotional suffering. Its hallmarks are self-reflection and self-examination, and the use of the relationship between therapist and patient as a window into problematic relationship patterns in the patient’s life. Its goal is not only to alleviate the most obvious symptoms but to help people lead healthier lives.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a type of treatment for patients with depression which focuses on past and present social roles and interpersonal interactions. During treatment, the therapist generally chooses one or two problem areas in the patient’s current life to focus on. Examples of areas covered are disputes with friends, family or co-workers, grief and loss and role transitions, such as retirement or divorce.  IPT does not attempt to delve into inner conflicts resulting from past experiences. Rather it attempts to help the patient find better ways to deal with current problems. IPT identifies four basic problem areas which contribute to depression. The therapist helps the patient determine which area is the most responsible for their depression and therapy is then directed at helping the patient deal with this problem area.

The four basic problem areas recognized by Interpersonal Therapy are:

  1. Unresolved grief – In normal bereavement, the person usually begins to return to normal functioning within a few months. Unresolved grief is generally grief which is delayed and experienced long after the loss or distorted grief, in which the person may not feel emotions, but instead experiences other symptoms.
  2. Role disputes occur when the patient and significant people in his life have different expectations about their relationship.
  3. Role transitions – Depression may occur during life transitions when a person’s role changes and one doesn’t know how to cope with the change.
  4. Interpersonal deficits – This may be an area of focus if the patient has had problems with forming and maintaining good quality relationships.

What Is Interpersonal Therapy Used For?  IPT was developed for the treatment of depression and its efficacy for this application is backed up by several large-scale randomized control trials. It may also be used as couple’s therapy for those whose marital troubles contribute to their depression.   In addition, preliminary data show it to be of potential use in treating adolescent depression, dysthymic disorder, bipolar disorder and postpartum depression.

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is typically applied with short term problems such as making life decisions or in adjusting to changes in one’s environment such as children leaving home.  SFBT emphasizes what the client wants to achieve through therapy rather than concentrating on the client’s problems. The approach emphasizes the present and future rather than focusing the past. The therapist/counselor uses respectful curiosity to invite the client to envision a preferred future and then helps the client start moving toward it. By helping clients identify the things they wish to change in their lives—and also to attend to those things that are currently happening that they hope will continue happening.