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A Guide to Therapy Treatment Approaches: Which is Right for You?

If you're considering therapy, you've probably noticed there are many types to choose from! Certain methods work best in some situations, while different treatments are better in others.


Regardless of the type of therapy, you'll work with a trained professional during a session who will work alongside you to assess what is going on and what the best treatment approach might be.


What you’ll do, or talk about in each session depends on the kind of therapy approach you’re looking for, your therapist's specific training, methods or suggestions, and what you want to work through.


To make informed choices on your journey to healing and growth, we’ve broken down each of the most common therapy treatment approaches at CW Therapy. Below we will look at Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and general talk therapy.



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What is Evidence Based Therapy?


Evidence based therapy refers to therapeutic approaches and interventions that have been scientifically researched and proven effective through rigorous studies and clinical trials. By relying on these methods, evidence-based treatments give patients a higher likelihood of positive outcomes. This approach guarantees that therapeutic interventions are in line with the most recent developments in the field, and you can trust that you’re on a well-supported route to improving your mental health. All therapists at CW Therapy are trained in evidence based therapies, and all of the approaches we will discuss are evidenced based. 


What is the difference between these therapy treatment approaches?


The most significant difference between Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and talk therapy, are the techniques used in each session.


For example, the goal of CBT is to recognize and alter harmful thinking, feeling and behaviour patterns. Yet, EMDR uses guided eye movements or dual attention sets to treat and process trauma. DBT emphasizes skills and tools to support acceptance, change, and managing intense emotions. CPT, a branch of CBT, uses a similar set of skills as CBT except with a focus on the processing of trauma by changing unhelpful and harmful thinking patterns after a traumatic event.


What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that helps people by focusing on changing negative thought patterns, feelings and behaviours to improve their mental well-being as well as relationships with self and others. This treatment emphasizes the connection between thoughts, feelings, and actions, while offering tangible and concrete skills, to create positive change.


How does Cognitive Behavioural Therapy work?


In CBT sessions, people learn to replace harmful thought patterns with more balanced and constructive ones through the use of worksheets and structured sets of questioning. Through collaboration with your therapist, you’ll identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to emotional distress or problematic behaviours.


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What is Cognitive Processing Therapy?


Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is designed to help people overcome the impact of traumatic experiences. In this treatment, we work together to address and change unhelpful thought patterns related to the trauma.


CPT focuses on processing and reframing thoughts to reduce distress and promote healing. This is focused on beliefs around self-blame and the 5 themes that tend to be most impacted by trauma: safety, trust, power and control, self-esteem, and intimacy.




How does Cognitive Processing Therapy work?


In CPT, you’ll work through structured exercises and discussions with a therapist. In these sessions, we aim to reduce your emotional distress associated with trauma by changing unhelpful beliefs and promoting adaptive coping strategies. This process empowers people to manage their emotions better and begin a new path to healing.


How to Use CPT to Treat PTSD and Beyond


When treating PTSD with CPT, patients work with a therapist to identify and challenge negative thoughts related to their specific trauma, gradually reframing them for a healthier perspective. By engaging in structured exercises, CPT helps individuals develop coping skills, facilitating emotional healing beyond the immediate impact of post-traumatic stress.


What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is about managing intense emotions, improving relationships, and developing coping skills for the future. In these sessions, we emphasize balancing acceptance of oneself and one's situation with the need for change to achieve emotional well-being.


How does Dialectical Behaviour Therapy work?


In a DBT session, you’ll work through a combination of acceptance-based strategies and techniques for change. DBT helps individuals find a balance between self-acceptance and pursuing positive change, strengthening their emotional resilience. DBT is often very skills-based, and very structured, yet highly effective. 


How can someone benefit from Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?


Someone who needs support in managing overwhelming emotions, improving their interpersonal relationships, or needs stronger coping skills for what life throws at them may want to consider trying DBT. In our DBT sessions, we provide a practical and balanced approach so you can find a balance between your need for positive change and self-acceptance.


What is EMDR Therapy?


EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This therapy involves guided eye movements, or dual attention sets (buzzers, tapping, alternating noises) to help the brain reprocess distressing memories, reducing their emotional intensity and promoting healing. We typically use this style of session for those processing and trying to overcome the impact of prior traumatic experiences. One of the benefits of EMDR is that any event that had a strong negative impact on you would fit these criteria, which may include events like bullying that some don’t always consider when thinking about trauma. EMDR can also be used to treat phobias and other anxiety-based responses. 


The Phases of EMDR Therapy


There are eight phases of EMDR therapy. They provide a road map for the treatments. The first phase is history taking and treatment planning, where the therapist and patient discuss the client’s history and readiness for EMDR, including the focus of treatment. This is followed by the second phase, preparation, where the therapist explains the EMDR therapy process and answers any questions. During the third phase, assessment, the patient will help the therapist identify the trauma that will be reprocessed in treatment.


The next few phases are focused on reprocessing traumatic events using eye movements or dual attention sets, this continues until the stress subsides. The therapist will guide you until the distress clears.  When that phase is complete, installation begins. This is when the client, with the therapist’s support, associates a more positive belief with the trauma until it feels true. The next phase, body scan, requires the individual to consider the trauma and the positive belief at the same time while scanning the body from head to toe.


The session always ends with closure, when the client returns to a calm state, and the eighth phase, reevaluation, when the client and therapist discuss the treatment.  



What is Talk Therapy?


Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, involves supportive conversations between a client and a therapist. In these sessions, you’ll explore and address emotional challenges, improve mental well-being, and discover strategies for your own personal growth. These appointments provide a safe space for people to express their thoughts and feelings while receiving guidance and support. The therapist may still pull from various therapeutic modalities but in a more eclectic way.

 

How Talk Therapy Can Benefit You


Talk therapy sessions can benefit you by offering a supportive environment to express your inner thoughts and feelings. This can help with your self-awareness and understanding. Through open conversations with a professional therapist, you can gain insights into your challenges and work towards making meaningful changes.


Regardless of your circumstances, there is a therapy approach for you. Research shows that no matter what modality you choose, the most important predictor of therapy success is your relationship with your therapist, and believing the therapy will help.


To take the next step and learn more, we invite you to schedule a free 15-minute consultation with one of our therapists. Click here to book.


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