My Approach to Therapy

A free middle-aged man enjoying a beautiful view of the mountain valley. Unity with nature.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: The foundation of my approach is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).  I am committed to using strategies that have been proven to be the most effective, and CBT is among the most empirically supported interventions that psychology has to offer for treating anxiety disorders, depression, problems with substance use / abuse, marital conflict, and other mental health issues. For more information.

Decades of research and clinical practice have revealed that individuals often hold onto ways of thinking about themselves, other people, and situations that can be incorrect, or biased. These beliefs are often largely unconscious yet can have a profound effect on how we treat ourselves, respond to others,
and make decisions about our future.

For example, if I have always believed that I am not very smart or capable, then I may not think that I am worthy of finding a better job or relationship, or I may be quick to defer to the opinions of others (even if I have valuable things to offer), or I may limit my life goals. This is where cognitive techniques might be used to identify and correct these thoughts.

Additionally, this example demonstrates the importance of using behavioral strategies to augment the effectiveness of CBT. Learning to identify distorted thinking can create new ways of seeing ourselves in the world and open up possibilities; however, we can still remain hesitant or uncertain about how to start taking steps in a new direction. Behavioral techniques create an action plan that identifies barriers that keep us from making the changes that we want and gives us specific goals for moving forward one step at a time.

Making specific behavioral changes provides the opportunity for a “corrective experience” that challenges previously held assumptions about what would happen. When we encounter a more positive outcome than our depressive and/or anxiety-based thinking predicted, then we can really start to challenge our self-limiting beliefs and live with more confidence.

I am also well versed in other therapies that are folded into your individualized treatment to better achieve your goals.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: I greatly admire the work of Dr. Steven Hayes, who developed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT, pronounced “act”). Whereas CBT is focused on identifying distorted or errant thinking that holds us back from our goals, ACT acknowledges that there are many situations in life that are difficult, anxiety-provoking, or painful even if we are thinking correctly that still require us to move forward if we are to achieve our goals.

ACT uses mindfulness techniques to teach us to identify and accept these “difficult” thoughts and feelings so that they have less control, while elevating the motivational power found in our deeply held values (e.g., loyalty, compassion, trust).

For example, at the time, I certainly did not think I was mature enough to get married, yet I value deep and lasting relationships and I loved my fiancé immensely. So, I examined the fears and self-doubts, acknowledged this was a big step, accepted that this type of life-changing commitment comes with some angst, and did it anyway – even though I still had plenty of uncertainty and trepidation.