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Though the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has published guidelines and ethics for how therapy should be constrained, there are many differences in the types and models of therapy that can be effective within these bounds. There is great diversity among therapists, ranging from person-centered therapy to psychoanalytic, to cognitive behavioural therapy, and so forth. Over 125 models for therapy are listed and described. Therapists bring unique personalities, temperaments, interests, genders, insights, and experiences, making each therapy experience unique.
Here is a summary of the therapeutic process. For ease in description we refer to the client as “him” though we provide the service for males, females and couples:
Phase 1: Listening Phase.
First, we find out what has brought the client to therapy. We focus on listening and reflectively responding to what the client is saying in words as well as through body language and facial expressions. We desire to be extra caring and compassionate as well as non-judgmental particularly in the early stages of therapy because this aids the client to freely and fully express himself, gain more insight into the surface and deeper realities of his situation and build trust and safety in the therapeutic relationship. We ask what the client’s goals are for therapy and if the client is not sure about appropriate goals, we collaboratively help him construct goals that we feel comfortable setting. The first phase typically takes one to two sessions. Sessions typically last 50 minutes once per week or fortnight.
Phase 2: Examine client’s history of dealing with problems.
We focus on learning from the client’s history and past successes or attempts at dealing with the problem of concern. Typically we investigate influence of the Family of Origin using tools such as genogram or timeline. This again promotes understanding and insight for the client as well as some separation from the problem, relieving a portion of the intensity of the pain. We hope to find the various factors that contribute to why the client is feeling stuck in his pattern of operating. We continue to form trust by listening and praising operating methods that have worked for him. We use our education and intuition to try different techniques, and bring new ideas to the client that would most benefit him. This may take several sessions.
Phase 3: The work of therapy.
In this phase, we continue with the therapeutic techniques introduced in Phase 2, to help the client understand, experience and practice new ways of dealing with his situation. Techniques used include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), Emotion-Focused Therapy, Internal Family Systems Therapy. Couples’ Therapy tools such as the Awareness Wheel and Listening Cycle as well as Pragmatic Experiential Therapy for Couples for relational work. This phase varies in duration. For premarital couples, we use the Prepare-Enrich Assessment which is designed to give insight into the couple’s relationship before they marry. Frequent reviews help assess whether the approach is effective for him and that it is helping him reach his goals. This phase of therapy ranges in duration but can be expected to last for one to several months.
Phase 4: Self-leadership
This phase is characterized by increasingly less reliance upon the therapist. The client feels more centered and confident about navigating in his world and can articulate what he has done or how he has changed to be empowered. He typically has more hope and joy. He has reached his goal for therapy and has several choices. He may discontinue therapy, meet less frequently (fortnightly or monthly) with the therapist for continued but less involved support or he may decide on a new goal for therapy. Whatever the decision, the client and therapist collaboratively agree on a decision that is best for him. Follow up sessions can be arranged and re-entering therapy down the road is common.
We think that the best part about our therapy is that we are personally tailoring our work to the needs of each individual client or couple. Each client’s needs are different and always changing, and giving that individual attention is what we believe makes our therapy so effective.