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Westport Family Counseling

Theoretical Background

Self-Psychology: Self-psychology explains psychopathology as being the result of disrupted or unmet developmental needs. Emphasis is placed on the concepts of empathy, self-object, mirroring, idealizing, attachment, and the alter ego.

Object Relations: Object relations theory is based on the belief that people gain their sense of Self during infancy and early childhood. The way they learn to see themselves in the world and the ways in which they relate to others comes from the way they are treated when they are young. In theory, their sense of safety, worth, and belonging stem from how they are first received and how the family, and mother, in particular, behave toward them.

Attachment Theory: describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. However, attachment theory is not formulated as a general theory of relationships. It addresses only a specific facet: how human beings respond within relationships when hurt, separated from loved ones, or perceiving a threat. The most important tenet of attachment theory is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for the child’s successful social and emotional development, and in particular for learning how to effectively regulate their feelings.

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Psychoanalytic Theory: The psychoanalytic paradigm examines the evolution of a person’s development, placing an emphasis on understanding how the past influences present patterns of thought and behavior. As part of the process, the therapist and patient delve into the unconscious… looking at dreams, as well as subconscious wishes, feelings, and experiences.

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Family Systems Theory: is based on the paradigm that the family is an emotional unit and that individuals can be understood in the context of their family.

Solution Focused Therapy: is a goal-directed collaborative approach to psychotherapeutic change that is conducted through direct observation of clients’ responses to a series of precisely constructed questions. SF therapy sessions typically focus on the present and future, focusing on the past only to the degree necessary for communicating empathy and accurate understanding of the clients’ concerns.

Narrative Therapy: is a collaborative process with the client to develop richer (or “thicker”) narratives. In this process, narrative therapists ask questions to generate experientially vivid descriptions of life events that are not currently included in the plot of the problematic story. By conceptualizing a non-essentialized identity, narrative practices separate persons from qualities or attributes that are taken-for-granted essentialisms within modernist and structuralist paradigms. This process of externalization allows people to consider their relationships with problems, thus the narrative motto: “The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.” So-called strengths or positive attributes are also externalized, allowing people to engage in the construction and performance of preferred identities.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: is a psychotherapeutic approach that addresses dysfunctional emotions, maladaptive behaviors, and cognitive processes and contents through a number of goal-oriented, explicit, systematic procedures. The name refers to behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, and therapy based on a combination of basic behavioral and cognitive principles and research. Most therapists working with patients dealing with anxiety and depression use a blend of cognitive and behavioral therapy. This technique acknowledges that there may be behaviors that cannot be controlled through rational thought. CBT is “problem focused” (undertaken for specific problems) and “action-oriented” (therapist tries to assist the client in selecting specific strategies to help address those problems).

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Gestalt: is an existential/experiential form of psychotherapy that emphasizes personal responsibility, and that focuses upon the individual’s experience in the present moment, the therapist-client relationship, the environmental and social contexts of a person’s life, and the self-regulating adjustments people make as a result of their overall situation.

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Process Oriented Therapy: Process-oriented therapy has been applied in a range of contexts including individual therapy and working with groups and organizations. It is known for extending dream analysis to body experiences and for applying psychology to world issues including socioeconomic disparities, diversity issues, social conflict, and leadership.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: TF-CBT is a treatment model that incorporates various trauma-sensitive intervention components. It aims at individualizing TF-CBT techniques to children and their circumstances while maintaining a therapeutic relationship with both the child and parent. TF-CBT treatment can be used with children and adolescents who have experienced traumatic life events. It is a short-term treatment (typically 12-16 sessions) that combines trauma-sensitive interventions with cognitive behavioral therapy strategies.

Internal Family Systems (IFS): is a psychotherapeutic paradigm based on the premise that the mind is a collection of different parts, each trying to maintain the individual’s well-being. Each part uses a method based on a subjective view of the individual. When parts are in conflict, dysfunction emerges. The IFS method does not attempt to eliminate any part but rather works to promote communication, harmony, and balance between them, in an effort to help the person integrate.

Mindfulness-based Therapy: Mindfulness-based therapy is a psychological therapy designed to aid in preventing the relapse of depression, specifically in individuals with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).  It uses traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) methods and adds in newer psychological strategies such as mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. Cognitive methods can include educating the participant about depression.  Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation, focus on becoming aware of all incoming thoughts and feelings and accepting them, but not attaching or reacting to them.

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