Treatment Approaches and Interventions
The clinicians at Dr. Stephanie Bot & Associates are trained in multiple treatment approaches to allow them to customize the therapy to the unique needs of each client. We do not believe in a generic approach to therapy as different challenges, mental health issues and personality styles respond differently to the various approaches. Since our clinicians are skilled in multiple modalities of treatment, they can integrate several models or draw primarily on one as determined by the client's needs.
We have included some information about some of the various treatment approaches we use to educate you about some of the types of services you may receive at Dr. Stephanie Bot & Associates.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is one of the most commonly prescribed forms of treatment today. It is an effective approach for addressing many psychological disorders and mental health issues. CBT is considered an evidenced based model as thousands of scientific research studies have established the effectiveness of CBT in treating anxiety disorders, mood disorders and many other mental health issues. CBT therapy focuses on the present and is organized around problem-solving. It addresses the relationships between thoughts, behaviours and emotions through interventions that assist patients in identifying maladaptive thoughts that are negatively influencing their attitude, motivation, success, emotional regulation and behaviours. Patients learn specific skills including identifying patterns of distorted thinking, modifying unhealthy and inaccurate beliefs, relating to others in different ways, and changing ineffective or destructive behaviours.
The CBT model requires patients to actively participate in their treatment planning and its implementation. Patients learn to shift their ingrained patterns of thinking, feeling and acting by making small, consistent changes in how they think and behave on a daily basis. When treatment ends, patients are able to transfer and apply the skills and tools learned in therapy to their day-to-day lives.
Most services provided at Dr. Stephanie Bot & Associates incorporates at least some CBT into the treatment process even if it is not determined to be the best fit for the client as a primary approach. The techniques and subsequent skill development fostered through CBT are beneficial to most patients.
Psychodynamic and Psychoanalytic Therapy Approaches
My initial training over 20 years ago was in CBT but as I worked with patients, I found that they often wanted and/or required a deeper, more complex and comprehensive understandings of their mental health issues, relationship challenges and work struggles.
Psychodynamic therapies are the most longstanding of current therapeutic approaches supporting a highly developed, comprehensive and researched theory and practice of human development and interaction. These approaches are more intensive and insight oriented allowing clients to develop broader and more substantial understandings of why and how they have constructed their lives and relationships. People are often unaware of how profoundly their unconscious experiences and internalized patterns of relating are interfering with their sense of self and their ability to manage their emotions and experiences with self and others. These therapies are often longstanding and lead to more profound and permanent shifts in patients' capacities to self regulate, foster meaningful connections and live their lives with less fear and more authenticity.
People do not exist or develop in vacuums but rather in the context of relational systems. Often clients show up for sessions and are resistant to exploring their family background or talking about significant relationships. People need to be understood within a broader context to assist them in recognizing the roles they tend to play within groups and the dynamics that are familiar to them and for that reason more frequently played out even if they are unpleasant. The relational world of every human being is quite complex and when it is unpacked and explored, it can provide profound and useful insight and awareness to how and why one is behaving and relating in the way he/she does. Through the safety of the therapeutic relationship these relational dynamics may be played out, processed as well creating opportunities for new relational experiences allowing for patients to expand their possibilities and capacities for intimacy, connection, self-regulation and personal growth.
Mindfulness Meditation is a Western, research-based form of meditation derived from an ancient Buddhist practice known as Vipassana or Insight Meditation. It is a form of meditation designed to develop the skill of paying attention to our inner and outer experiences with acceptance, patience, and compassion.
The University of California Center for Mindfulness describes Mindfulness as:
“non-judgmental, open-hearted, friendly, and inviting of whatever arises in awareness. It is cultivated by paying attention on purpose, deeply, and without judgment to whatever arises in the present moment, either inside or outside of us. By intentionally practicing mindfulness, deliberately paying more careful moment-to-moment attention, individuals can live more fully and less on ‘automatic pilot,’ thus, being more present for their own lives.”
Mindfulness meditation is often incorporated into our treatment approaches to assist patients who struggle with stress, anger, pain, addictions, and other relational or mental health issues. Patients who incorporate mindfulness meditation into their daily lives describe an increased sense of self control, enhanced self-esteem, clearer thinking and judgment as well as a greater sense of calm and confidence in their ability to cope with the challenges of life and relationships. Mindfulness meditation can also improve quality of sleep, reduce stress, enhance concentration and foster a better sense of overall well-being. This technique is also beneficial to successful management of health issues and can lead to better treatment outcomes psychologically and physically.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy
DBT at its root, is a form of CBT with more flexibility. It’s an adaptable, problem solving focused, treatment model, based on the idea of bringing together the dialectical or opposite concepts of self-acceptance and behavioral change. In DBT, clients are taught to live in the moment and accept themselves as they are. At the same time, they also learn tools to help them regulate intense emotions, improve conflict in relationships and identify behaviors that are unhealthy, and learn more sustainable ways of coping with stress. DBT is effective and evidence based and it can be used to treat a variety of concerns.
Behavioural Desensitization and Exposure Therapy
Patients often suffer from fears and phobias. For various reasons certain situations, experiences or things create significant anxiety and can often lead to a person organizing their life around avoidance of feared experience or object. This can become quite limiting of a person's life and interfere with a sense of freedom and enjoyment. Behavioural Desensitization is a highly effective technique that combines visualization, relaxation techniques and graduated exposure to assist a person in facing fears in a controlled, safe and systematic way. The process is extremely slow allowing the person to build their confidence and sense of calm in the presence of the fear ultimately overcoming or significantly reducing the anxiety associated with that fear. This treatment can be done on its own or in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches to encourage a broader and more meaningful understanding of the individual's fears and anxieties. Helen Keller once wrote "The best way out is always through". This very successful treatment technique supports this idea. Every time we face a little piece of what we are afraid of, we demonstrate to ourselves that we can cope, that we are safe and in turn we feel a bit stronger and better about who we are.
According to the EMDR Institute, Inc. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.
Patients often benefit from some education around the issues they are struggling with as well as specific skills and techniques for how to address them. Part of therapy usually incorporates some education whether it be around a diagnosis, life skills, problem solving or scripting difficult conversations. Practical and useful information can expand a clients personal resources to cope more effectively with the challenges they face. We emphasize the value of psycho-education at this clinic and often recommend readings or on-line seminars through the BizLife Institute to supplement the therapy. We encourage our patients to adopt an attitude of curiosity and interest in both understanding their issues better, having more tools and insights to address them and to recognize that self-improvement is an ongoing pursuit that is a worthwhile investment to support a life well lived.