Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is often the first choice psychological treatment for people seeking help from their GP with psychological difficulties. Indeed, there is a large and solid evidence base that demonstrates CBT to be an effective short-term treatment for a range of conditions, including depression and anxiety. In CBT, the client and therapist work together to determine how your thoughts about yourself, others and the world influence your emotions and behaviour. You then work together to identify alternative ways of thinking and develop behaviours that are more adaptive. Many clients like CBT because it can be delivered in 8-12 sessions and rather than exploring your past in detail, it pays most attention to your thoughts, feelings and, behaviours in the present day.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a recent adaptation of CBT that focuses on helping you identify ways in which you may get stuck in your thinking and develop cycles of behaviour that and prevent you living the life you want to. It is based on the idea that we cannot control or change every negative aspect of our life and we may actually find fulfilment if we accept and find ways to live in spite of certain difficulties; committing to changing previous avoidant or negative behaviours. This treatment places little emphasis on exploring past experiences and explores your thoughts, feelings and behaviour in the present day.
Mindfulness has been touted as the new big thing in the therapy world and there is an increasing evidence base that shows it to be an effective short-term treatment for a range of psychological problems. Mindfulness helps clients develop a mental state of awareness, focus and openness - which allows you to engage fully in what you are doing at any moment. In a state of mindfulness, difficult thoughts and feelings have much less impact and influence over you, which leads to an improved sense of control and wellbeing.
Schema therapy is derived from CBT and can be helpful for clients who report difficulties in relating to others or who find themselves repeating behavioural patterns in relationships. The therapist will work with you to identify and explore your “schemas”: deeply held and often unconscious beliefs about yourself and other people and to help you develop healthier schemas that free you from long-standing maladaptive behaviour. In this way, schemas therapy pays more attention to your childhood and events in which your schemas are rooted. Schema therapy takes 18 or more sessions.
Psychodynamic therapy is a long-term approach, which, focuses on unconscious processes as they are manifested in a person’s present behaviour. The goals of psychodynamic therapy are to improve your self-awareness and understanding of the influence your past experiences, and in particular dysfunctional relationships in your childhood may be having on your present behaviour.
Systemic therapy is sometimes referred to as family therapy, although it can involve working with people who are not related. This approach works to foster change in relationships that are struggling, by identifying and addressing patterns of maladaptive interactions and moving the “system”; that is the family or couple; towards a stronger and more stable relationship.
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy which was originally developed for working with victims of trauma. It is based on the idea that under extreme stress one’s coping mechanism can become overloaded and traumatic memories can become “stuck.” EMDR develops the connections between different memory networks helping the brain to process traumatic events. EMDR is gaining lots of research interest and has shown good results for PTSD, OCD, phobias and complicated bereavement.