Treatment Approach


Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an empirically-based psychological intervention that weaves acceptance and mindfulness strategies together with behavior change and commitment strategies to enhance overall psychological flexibility.  Psychological flexibility is the ability to contact the present moment fully and the ability to determine, based on what the situation affords and one's chosen values, whether to change or persist in any given behavior.  Symptom reduction (e.g. getting rid of negative thoughts) is not a goal of ACT. This is based on the view that the ongoing attempt to eliminate ‘symptoms’ actually exacerbates these symptoms and causes greater distress.  ACT has developed as a behavioral intervention to help people learn strategies to live life more in the present, more focused on important values and goals, and less focused on painful thoughts, feelings and experiences. ACT teaches people how to engage with and overcome painful thoughts and feelings through acceptance and mindfulness techniques, to develop self-compassion and flexibility, and to build life-enhancing patterns of behavior. ACT is not about overcoming pain or fighting emotions; it's about embracing life and feeling everything it has to offer. It offers a way out of suffering by choosing to live a life based on what matters most.

Goals of ACT include:

1. Develop psychological skills to deal with painful feelings in such a way that they have less impact and influence over your life.

2. Clarify what is truly important and meaningful to you then use that knowledge to guide, inspire, and motivate you to change your life for the better.

3. Transform your relationship with difficult thoughts so they do not hold as much power over you.

As of August, 2016, there are 136 randomized controlled trials of ACT published, which indicate that ACT is effective for:

  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Weight Loss
  • Substance Abuse
  • Parenting
  • Coping with Diabetes and Cancer
  • Overall quality of life
  • Exercise
  • Eating Disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a therapeutic framework that focuses on problem solving and acceptance-based strategies. The term "dialectical" means a synthesis of seemingly opposite ideas.  For example, DBT therapists accept clients as they are while also acknowledging the change clients need to make in order to reach their goals.  All of the skills and strategies in DBT are balanced in terms of acceptance and change.  The four skills modules include two acceptance oriented skill sets (mindfulness and distress tolerance) and two sets of change-oriented skill sets (interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation).  DBT incorporates the following components:

  1. Skill enhancement: DBT provides opportunities for the enhancement of existing skills and development of new skills. DBT skills fall into the following categories: emotion regulation, mindfulness, interpersonal relationships and distress tolerance.
  2. Skill application: DBT therapists use various techniques to encourage the generalization of learned skills across all settings. Clients may learn how and when to apply their DBT skills at home, at school, at work, or in social settings. For example, a therapist might ask the client to talk with a partner about a conflict while practicing a particular interpersonal skill.
  3. Reduction of target behaviors: DBT implements individualized behavioral treatment plans in order to facilitate the reduction of problematic behaviors that the client has identified is negatively impacting his or her quality of life. For example, therapists frequently provide clients with self-monitoring tracking sheets to enhance accountability and ensure that sessions are optimized to address the most critical issues first.
  4. Phone skills consultation: Phone consultation is focused on providing clients with in-the-moment coaching on how to use skills to effectively cope with difficult situations that arise in their everyday lives. Clients can call their individual therapist between sessions to receive coaching at the times when they need help the most.

Cognitive BEhavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problems. The goal of CBT is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties. It is used to help treat a wide range of issues in a person’s life, from sleeping difficulties or relationship problems, to drug and alcohol abuse or anxiety and depression. CBT works by changing people’s attitudes and their behavior by focusing on the thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes that are held (a person’s cognitive processes) and how these processes relate to the way a person behaves, as a way of dealing with emotional problems.

The Gottman Method of Relationship therapy

The Gottman Method is an approach to couples therapy that includes a thorough assessment of the couple relationship and integrates research-based interventions.   Dr. John Gottman has revolutionized the study of relationships and is one of the foremost relationship experts in the world. For nearly four decades he has conducted research on all facets of relationships, including parenting issues. In collaboration with his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, he developed an approach that not only supports and repairs troubled marriages and committed relationships, but strengthens happy ones.

The goals of Gottman Method Couples Therapy are to disarm conflicting verbal communication, increase intimacy, respect, and affection, remove barriers that create a feeling of stagnancy in conflicting situations, and create a heightened sense of empathy and understanding within the context of the relationship.

Drs. John and Julie Gottman developed nine components of healthy relationships known as The Sound Relationship House Theory.

gottman relationship house.jpg

Some of the relationship issues that may be addressed in therapy include:

  • Frequent conflict and arguments
  • Poor communication
  • Emotionally distanced couples on the verge of separation
  • Specific problems such as sexual difficulties, infidelity, money, and parenting

Even couples with “normal” levels of conflict may benefit from the Gottman Method Couples Therapy. Gottman-trained therapists aim to help couples build stronger relationships overall and healthier ways to cope with issues as they arise in the future.