Our Therapeutic Modalities
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT: which is pronounced as the word ‘act’) is a form of therapy that gets its name from one of its core messages: accepting what is out of your personal control, and committing to actions that improve and enrich your life. The aim of ACT is to maximise human potential for a rich and meaningful life. ACT uses a wide range of exercises to challenge the power of destructive cognitive, emotive, and behavioural processes. It helps you to fundamentally change your relationship with painful thoughts and feelings, to develop a transcendent sense of self, to live in the present, and to take action, guided by your deepest values, to create a rich and meaningful life.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a form of short-term, problem-focused therapy, which aims to help you identify and change thinking and behaviour patterns that cause distress. Exploring the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviour is helpful in revealing maladaptive thinking or behavioural patterns, which can then be changed, leading to less emotional distress. The insight of the CBT model is that it is not events that bother us. Instead, it is the way that we interpret events – the meaning that we give to them – that gives rise to our feelings.
Mindfulness is a conscious awareness of our present moment experience which includes openness and non-judgment about the experience. Mindfulness therapy is not just concerned with relaxation, although that is often incorporated. The focus is on increasing our awareness of the thoughts, feelings, and actions that obstruct our progress. When we are better able to do that, we can engage with those aspects of ourselves, learn to tweak our language, and choose how to respond.
Developing a regular Mindfulness practice can help us live more in the present moment, which enables us to choose our actions and live a more intentional life.
Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP)
The body carries the legacy of trauma and expresses it in ways that are not always so obvious to us, such as in the way that we do or don’t move, our posture, and physiological arousal levels. These somatic experiences keep you‘ stuck’ in the past. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (SP) actively incorporates awareness of the body and your senses, so that you can recognise physiological cues of fight, flight or freeze, and learn to re-establish a sense of calm and safety within your body.This means that you can learn to use your body as your resource, rather than your downfall.
Body-based awareness and strategies are typically called ‘bottom-up’ interventions, whilst therapies that focus on our thinking style and attitude, are usually considered ‘top-down’ approaches to recovery. By addressing physical experiences (movement, posture, heart rate, emotions and sensations held in the body), as well as the psychological effects of adverse experiences, SP can offer a more integrative, holistic and sustainable approach to recovering from trauma.
Attachment theory, was first developed by psychologist Mary Ainsworth and psychiatrist John Bowlby in the 1950s and explains how the parent-child relationship emerges and influences subsequent development and adult attachment style. As research increasingly attests, early childhood attachment experiences play a crucial role in the development of one’s self esteem, and emotional and relational functioning. The central premise of attachment theory is that primary caregivers who are available and responsive to an infant’s needs in an enduring capacity, allow the child to develop a sense of security, which subsequently enables them to be free to explore themselves, other relationships, and their world. On the flip side, where an infant experiences caregiver/s as largely unresponsive, unpredictable, or threatening, this can have a lasting developmental impact and result, in what is called, insecure adult attachment styles. Some research measure these attachment styles based on an individual’s levels of avoidance and anxiety in relationships.
If your psychologist is trained in understanding the role of attachment experiences, they are more likely to assist you to understand your template of childhood experiences, and how they inform some of your current struggles with your sense of self, relationship patterns, and unhelpful ways in which you regulate your emotions. Hence Attachment Theory insights can be useful, where you are struggling with relationship issues or a diagnosis such as depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Your psychologist may also invite you to complete a questionnaire to help you both learn more about your attachment style.
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing Therapy
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an innovative psychotherapy approach designed for working with distressing or traumatic memories. It was first developed in 1987 by Francine Shapiro who proposed that, just like our bodies, the brain has a natural healing capacity. She discovered that EMDR taps into the neural processes that achieve this healing to unblock and process stored traumatic memories. Normal memories are stored in the brain region known as the Hippocampus which functions like a librarian to process events and store them in the right place. However, some traumatic events (such as accidents, natural disasters, violence, or adverse childhood experiences) are so overwhelming that the Hippocampus isn’t able to do its job effectively. When this happens, memories are stored in their raw, unprocessed form and are easily triggered. This triggering happens repeatedly and often without warning which causes significant distress. Without an effective intervention, such as EMDR, these traumatic memories remain unprocessed and continue to be problematic.
When considering undertaking EMDR therapy, a thorough assessment is conducted by the clinician and a collaborative treatment plan is developed which determines which memories and events are to be processed in therapy. After adequate coping strategies are developed, clients will then have the option to engage in an EMDR processing session. These sessions typically involve watching the therapist’s fingers moving backwards and forwards across the client’s visual field while they recall and notice their difficult memory. This eye movement causes sufficient distraction and thought to trigger similar restorative neutral processes found in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Through this processing, the memory and its associated thoughts, feelings, sensations, and images are likely to change. Over repeated sets of eye movements, the memory is likely to become less vivid and less emotionally painful. EMDR can accelerate therapy by resolving the impact of past traumas, allowing clients to live more fully in the present. EMDR has been found to be an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health problems including phobias, chronic pain, nightmares, anxiety, depression, single incident trauma, complicated grief, and more complex trauma. The validity and reliability of EMDR has been established by rigorous research, many of which can be easily accessed online.
The psychologists at The Health Continuum are Members of the EMDR Association of Australia (EMDRAA) and have been trained in EMDR by an EMDRAA approved program.
For more information about EMDR visit https://emdraa.org/
Start your journey now
Get in touch and let us help you