Therapeutic Approaches

Below are brief descriptions of some of the evidence-based theories that influence therapy and change approaches utilized by our professional, registered counsellors at Jeff Packer MSW & Associates Inc.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

The cognitive component of CBT focuses on the though process and the important link between thoughts, feelings and actions. You will learn to more accurately identify the specific negative thoughts behind the emotional challenges and undesired behaviours you are experiencing. The behavioural component of CBT assists people with identifying less healthy and undesired behavioural patterns, shifting these and discovering or uncovering healthy and effective alternative behaviour. CBT is effective in the treatment of depression, anxiety, phobias, health care crises, disordered eating, parenting and other behavioural changes (smoking cessation, losing weight, etc.).

Click here to learn more about our “HCBT” that combines CBT, Systems and Narrative. To read more about “Gettin Rid of Stinkin Thinkin” see the overview: Hybrid Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Overview

No Stinkin Thinkin Small

Note: The sign above was designed by a 60 yr old to help her remember the importance of more balanced and positive thinking, catching the negative thoughts underneath negative emotions and switching these for more balanced ideas to foster healthier emotional experiences and behaviours.

Structural Family Therapy

Structural family therapy is based upon the principles of social systems theory (below). When patterns of behaviour in a family shift or family members change, balance in the family system may be significantly disturbed. In this approach, the therapist works with the family (both as a whole, individually and in smaller sub-groups when required) to uncover the rules, boundaries, expectations and ways of relating within the family that may be inadvertently undermining the family’s sense of harmony. Structural family therapy does not single out the problem behaviours of any one family member but, instead looks at how all family members’ interactions may contribute to certain challenges and how small shifts in behaviour can foster positive changes. The therapist works to assist families to better identify hurtful and frustrating interactions, to develop strategies to bring about positive behaviours and to introduce new, more helpful actions that may have been previously overlooked.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy assumes the stance that our reality consists of stories developed over our lifetime, stories that may or may not be based upon fact and accurate interpretation. An important concept in this approach is the aim to separate the person from the problem. It follows the belief that problems are socially defined, rather than inherent to an individual. Therapists working from this stance will help you to externalize a problem – to see that a problem is something you have rather than something you are. You will learn to reframe your problems or challenges this way, and to discover more positive ways of viewing yourself and the challenges you are facing. Through a process called narrative re-writing, you learn to examine and analyze your story more fully and understand how it developed over time. Identifying a more balanced and comprehensive view, about topics and relationships previously viewed negatively, you can begin to shift or ‘rewrite’ troubling life situations gradually improving emotional and behavioural functioning.

Click here to learn more about narrative therapy:

Solution Focused Behaviour Therapy (SFBT)

Solution focused approaches are designed for people wanting brief therapy. It tends to be future-oriented aiming to uncover and develop effective strategies to achieve goals. Rather than focus on the history of problems and their causes, SFBT tends to focus solely on what you want to achieve in life. Therapy identifies smaller changes that can occur now to help you reach your preferred future. This approach aims to help you become ‘unstuck’, if you will, opening up an array of possibilities with which to resolve challenges. Drawing on your desire to improve, questions about your strengths, resources and goals will be explored and employed in the task of finding solutions together. You and your therapist will use this shorter-term therapeutic model to help you negotiate clear and concise goals, overcome obstacles, clarify direction for your life and outline specific, achievable steps to get you there.

Family Systems Theory

If you have read through theory this far, you have qualified for the “mega-theory” overview.

Systems Theory is considered the overarching theoretical model for human, social and family change processes. This theory is often referred to as an umbrella perspective as it effectively incorporates all other theoretical models of human behaviour.

A few key concepts include;

  1. Interconnection: All members of a system, family, workgroup, sports team etc. are inextricably connected to each other. Relationships with others (family, friends, colleagues) do not occur in isolation, but as one component of a larger social system, where change in one part influences change in another. Thus, one person actually can make changes that, in turn, influence change in others. Further, the family or social system is viewed as a team or unit working to accomplish goals.
  2. Boundaries: informal and formal communication of the roles, rules, guidelines and expectations help systems to function effectively. When a couple, family, workgroup, team or any social group is struggling to function well, an assessment and realignment of boundaries can help relationship satisfaction, productivity and overall functioning improve. Identifying what structural shifts can be made is a joint process, one that outlines areas for modest ‘tinkering’ of boundaries that are aimed to enhance quality of life for the individual, couple, family, workgroup or community seeking improvement.
  3. Energy: All systems, human included, require sufficient energy input in order to survive and function effectively. When resources coming in are lower than those expended, of course the functioning of the system (person, couple, family etc.) will deteriorate. An assessment of energy input and output as well as the development of improved capacity to function can be quite energizing! In other words, decreasing areas that drain energy, enhancing a person’s or family’s ability to cope and increasing relationships that add energy is part of the therapeutic aim. Thinks of it like Sean Covey who, in his great book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, refers to a relationship bank account; every thought and action we have either makes a withdrawal or deposit to the relationship we have with ourselves and others.

This brief overview above is designed to give information about a few of the approaches available to help people better understand this condition called life, the multitude of challenges associated with living and the wide range of effective perspectives and solutions available. Please ask you counsellor for more information on the best approaches for reaching your specific goals. For more information,  Contact us today!