WHAT IS TREATMENT LIKE?
Treatment is tailored to each individual, depending on a variety of factors. While every course of therapy is unique, my practice is rooted in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based practice that has been empirically proven to be effective for a variety of diagnoses. CBT is based upon the idea that our unwanted feelings (sadness, fear, anger, etc.) are a product of our thoughts (cognitions) and our behaviors. The goal of therapy is to identify thoughts and behaviors that are getting in the way and to implement changes in order to improve functioning.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a component of CBT and is the gold-standard of treatment for OCD. It is a behavioral therapy in which individuals practice confronting feared stimuli while resisting the corresponding compulsions; for example, touching a doorknob, then resisting the use of handwashing. Traditionally, individuals create a fear hierarchy, progressively moving from less- to more-feared stimuli once an individual has habituated to each exposure. ERP works most effectively when practiced regularly. I guide individuals through exposures in session, but also assign ERP homework to be completed between sessions.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is what’s known as a “third wave” therapy – a derivative of CBT much like DBT or MBCT. Rather than focus on the elimination of symptoms, ACT is a tool to facilitate the pursuit of a meaningful, value-filled life, even if doing so may sometimes involve feeling unwanted feelings. ACT encompasses skills like mindfulness and thought defusion, while also helping individuals to increase willingness to pursue their goals in the face of distressing feelings. I often use ACT as an adjunct to CBT – while I strive to help individuals reduce distressing symptoms, I also know that there is no magic pill to immediately remove bad feelings and that some people may benefit from learning tools to facilitate this process. The name of this therapy references “accepting” unwanted feelings, while concurrently “committing” to valued action.