Decode the lingo: Your reference guide to finding the right therapist
Finding a therapist is difficult. And when beginning the search for your perfect therapist, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of therapists available and the often unfamiliar terms they use to describe how they practice therapy.
Regardless of the issues you’d like to address in therapy, there are two important areas on our therapist profiles that we’d like to decode for you as you hunt for a great therapist. First, the treatment approaches our therapists utilize and next, their license types.
Let’s dig into the treatment approaches you’ll see listed by our therapists:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the main staples of therapeutic treatments. CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful thought distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and helping individuals develop personal coping strategies that focus on solving current problems they face.
- Mindfulness is another core approach for several of our therapists, otherwise know as Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). In this approach, people learn how to use techniques such as mindfulness meditation to interrupt mental patterns that may be negatively impacting your life. MBCT has been found to be particularly helpful for those suffering from depression and helps participants learn how to recognize their sense of being and see themselves as separate from their thoughts and moods. This disconnect can allow people to become liberated from thought patterns in which the same negative messages may be replayed over and over.
- Client-Centered Therapy also known as person-centered psychotherapy, is a form of psychotherapy that seeks to facilitate the patient’s inbuilt ability to grow through acceptance, therapist genuineness and empathetic understanding.
- Existential Psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on concepts that are universally applicable to human existence including death, freedom, responsibility, and the meaning of life. Instead of regarding experiences such as anxiety, alienation and depression as implying the presence of mental illness, existential psychotherapy sees these experiences as natural stages in a normal process of human development and maturation. In facilitating this process of development and maturation existential psychotherapy involves a exploration of an individual’s experiences while stressing the individual’s freedom and responsibility to create a higher degree of meaning and well-being in his or her life.
- Motivational Interviewing is a goal-oriented counseling style. The process is focused on taking steps towards achievable results. It departs from traditional therapy through use of direction, in which therapists attempt to influence clients to consider making changes, rather than simply explore themselves.
- Solution-Focused Therapy is a goal-directed collaborative approach to therapy that focuses on addressing what clients want to achieve without exploring the history of their problem(s). SF therapy sessions typically focus on the present and future, focusing on the past only to the degree necessary for the therapist to understand the client’s concerns and goals.
- Active listening is a communication technique that requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said. This is opposed to reflective listening where the listener repeats back to the speaker what they have just heard.
- Eclectic or Integrative Therapy usually means that the therapy combines different approaches and fuses them together. Therapists are considered “eclectic” when they selectively apply techniques from a variety of approaches to best fit your needs. Eclectic therapists are flexible and creative in the use of theories and techniques.
- Strength-Based Therapy emphasizes people’s self-determination and strengths. It is a philosophy and a way of viewing clients as resourceful and resilient in the face of adversity. It is client-led, with a focus on future outcomes and strengths that people bring.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is strategy that mixes acceptance and mindfulness strategies with commitment and behavior-change strategies to achieve the goals of a client. The approach was developed in order to create a mixed approach that integrates both cognitive and behavioral therapy.
- Structural Family Therapy is a method of psychotherapy which addresses problems within a family. Structural family therapists strive to enter, or “join”, the family system in therapy in order to understand the invisible rules which govern its functioning, map the relationships between family members or between subsets of the family, and ultimately disrupt dysfunctional relationships within the family, causing it to stabilize and become healthier.
- Affirmative Therapy is a form of psychotherapy for non-heterosexuals which focuses on working towards authenticity and self-acceptance regarding sexual orientation, and does not attempt to change or eliminate same-sex desires and behaviors. Affirmative psychotherapy states that homosexuality or bisexuality is not a mental illness, in accordance with global scientific consensus. In fact, embracing and affirming gay identity can be a key component to recovery from other mental illnesses or substance abuse.
- Humanistic Therapy is an approach to psychology that emphasizes empathy and stresses the good in human behavior. In counseling and therapy, this approach allows a psychologist to focus on ways to help improve an individual’s self-image or self-actualization – the things that make them feel worthwhile.
- Psychodynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalytic psychotherapy is a form of psychology that focuses on revealing the unconscious content of a client’s inner psyche.
- Applied Behavior Analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on improving specific behaviors, such as social skills, communication, reading, and academics as well as adaptive learning skills, such as fine motor dexterity, hygiene, grooming, domestic capabilities, punctuality, and job competence. ABA is effective for children and adults with psychological disorders in a variety of settings, including schools, workplaces, homes, and clinics.
In California, these licenses are administered by the Board of Behavioral Sciences (the BBS). And here is how the various license types you will see on Elevate Therapy are defined:
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) – According to the BBS, marriage and family therapy is a “service performed with individuals, couples, or groups wherein interpersonal relationships are examined for the purpose of achieving more adequate, satisfying, and productive marriage and family adjustments.”
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – Clinical social work is defined as “a service in which a special knowledge of social resources, human capabilities, and the part that unconscious motivation plays in determining behavior, is directed at helping people to achieve more adequate, satisfying, and productive social adjustments.”
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) – Finally, professional clinical counseling is the “application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques to identify and remediate cognitive, mental, and emotional issues, including personal growth, adjustment to disability, crisis intervention, and psychosocial and environmental problems.”
At first therapeutic lingo can seem mystifying, especially when you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for. We hope this short guide can help you determine what approaches you’re interested in trying, so you can begin working with a provider who is best suited to your needs and goals. Ready to get started? Start browsing our therapists here!