Psychodynamic: Psychodynamic theory is a freudian modality that has proven very effective at helping to reduce anxiety, depression, and other emotional ailments. It is even said that the psychodynamic approach has allowed some patients to heal the issue all together. Psychodynamic is set apart by some other forms of talk therapy because of the depth of conversation can often result in unlocking memories and core beliefs stored in the unconscious mind. A popular way to describe psychodynamic work is using the “root and the fruit” analogy. Imagine you have an apple tree and you notice many of the apples on the tree are rotten. Some might pull the rotten fruit from the branches and save what they could and hope that the next batch of apples grow healthier because you’ve cleared away the rotten ones. While other people might clear the apples from the tree AND do a thorough inspection of the root of the tree, to rule out any poison sprouting from the ground up so that they can stop the spread right at the source. With psychodynamic theory, we are doing the root work here. This not only allows for a deeper understanding of yourself but allows you to access deeper healing as well.
CBT/TF-CBT: Perhaps the most widely known and most commonly used modality of talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy are two useful therapeutic modalities. CBT operates under the idea that thoughts inform feelings that inform behavior, which cycles right back to thought. This is a vicious cycle many get caught up in and this form of therapy is useful in that it’s aim is to interrupt that cycle and develop new frameworks of thought and behavior over time. Fundamentally, TF-CBT is not too different except it’s focused on how a trauma has impacted the thoughts, feelings, behavior cycle. This form of therapy is widely used because it is vastly beneficial for most people, as we are all prone to patterns of beliefs (about ourselves or the world) that don’t serve us and sometimes it takes gaining some perspective to see that.
Somatic Experience: Somatic experience therapy is an alternative therapy developed to help trauma sufferers release stress from their body. It is believed that stress is stored in the body and while our conscious mind might make sense of our trauma and logically identify they’re no longer in danger, often our bodies don’t get the memo and hold on to different emotions and even can stay in perpetual fight, flight, freeze, or fawn mode. This modality of therapy is a great partner to talk therapy as you are healing your mind and body simultaneously.
Polyvagal Therapy: Polyvagal therapy is another body-focused therapeutic modality used to reduce chronic anxiety and stress. However, in polyvagal therapy the goal is to learn how to regulate your body’s nervous system. Sometimes when we experience stress or anxiety our alarms in our central nervous system get stuck in the “on position”. Think of it like your smoke alarm going off because you burned the pizza. You’ve taken out the pizza, opened a window to let the smoke out and your arms are getting tired from waving a hand towel by the alarm to get it to go off…but it JUST KEEPS GOING. That can happen in our nervous system as well and this form of therapy teaches you how to reset the alarm.
Acceptance Commitment Therapy: Acceptance Commitment Therapy, or ACT for short, is another cool form of talk therapy. Like with CBT, you’ll be coached in examining your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. So what’s the difference? Well in ACT you’ll be working to commit to the acceptance of your thoughts and feelings without judgment, guilt, or avoidance. The goal is to observe and not absorb, respond and not react. When you’re able to objectively and mindfully observe your thoughts and feelings, you have more control over addressing what needs to be addressed and sometimes, simply sitting with what needs to be sat with.
Internal Family Systems: When one first learns about the newer modality of internal family systems, many find it to read like a multiple personality situation. However, that is not so. IFS is built upon the framework of many parts of the “Self”, there are parts of us that are angry and hurt, while other parts are protective. IFS describes these parts as individual members of your internal family. This is very useful in that it provides an immensely increased level of perspective when these parts of you are externalized and examined. As with other therapies, this form of therapy is extremely valuable in the effort to break down long standing defense mechanisms, limiting beliefs, and negative thought and behavior patterns.