Our therapists use a variety of research-supported techniques when working with clients. Below you will see brief explanations about some of them, as well as links to further information if you are interested.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

 This approach focuses on changing thoughts (e.g., "other people are untrustworthy" might shift to "some people can be trusted,") and behaviours (for example, going to bed when feeling overwhelmed may change to calling a friend to discuss the problem) to change emotions and to improve coping. Some techniques used in this approach include checking the objective evidence for a belief, or trying a behavioural experiment to see which strategies might be more effective in moving towards a concrete goal, such as reducing the number of panic attacks in a week. The therapist and client work together to identify goals and design ways to move towards them. This approach is particularly effective for anxiety and pain management, and there is also good evidence for its use with other problems such as depression and stress management. Here's a cartoon example of CBT too.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

 This is a version of cognitive-behavioural therapy which in which negative thoughts are examined with mindfulness, that is, being present in the moment and accepting mental and emotional experiences as they happen. Rather than a direct focus on changing thoughts, accepting reactions is seen as a path towards actively choosing values and beliefs, and taking action to move towards those values. Techniques used may include observing thoughts non-judgmentally without necessarily seeing them as objectively truthful or important; focusing on the here and now rather than the past or future; and exploring personal values towards making life more meaningful. 

Observed and Experiential Integration (OEI)

This is a treatment approach that integrates talking through the experiences of trauma with physical movements to decrease emotional intensity and allow the brain to make sense of the confusing sensory, physical, emotional and cognitive experiences associated with trauma. It is a very gentle approach in which the therapist asks the client to cover and uncover one eye at a time, and follow the therapist`s finger. The eye movements result in integrating or resolving trauma, and reducing the intensity of bodily sensations and emotions associated with the traumatic experience.

Sand tray therapy

This method is used both with adults and children, particularly those who have experienced trauma. Sand tray work provides a spontaneous and imaginative expression of the inner world of a child, youth, or adult in a sand box, using miniature figurines and objects (people, houses, animals). Being able to express psychological distress in a defined space enables clients to tell their story, express emotions, and gain insights in ways that promote healing and change. This can be particularly useful for those who express themselves more comfortably in non-verbal ways. Here's a video example with an adult client.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

This is a trauma treatment approach which has been shown to be as effective as cognitive-behavioural therapy. Clients recall trauma memories while eye movement or other physical movements such as tapping are used. This is believed to allow the mind to process memories which were overwhelming at the time that they occurred. The treatment works to reduce the intensity and life impact of traumatic memories, and other trauma symptoms, such as triggers and anxiety.  

Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT)

This approach is typically used in couples and relationship therapy, as well as with children and adults, and focuses on the emotional bonds between family members. If the bond is damaged, for example, by a betrayal of some kind or misunderstanding, a relationship tends to become bogged down in miscommunication and mistrust, and further hurts continue to accumulate. Focusing on healing the bond through gentle and supportive discussion of past events, as well as identifying each partners' individual needs and discussing ways to meet these that will foster closeness, are some ways in which EFT may be used to improve relationships. Also, here's a link to a Youtube video for a brief demonstration of the technique by the woman who developed it, Dr. Sue Johnson.

Gottman Couples Therapy

This treatment style is based on the relationship research of Drs. Julie and John Gottman, who have identified a number of ways in which couples can develop maladaptive relationship patterns. For example, hostility and withdrawal are two interaction types that have strong negative effects on the health and happiness of relationships. Using this information, the therapist works with the couple to identify which issues are affecting their relationship, and develop ways to shift these patterns into healthier communication and connection. Here's Dr. John Gottman talking about this therapy approach.