Treatment Modality Definitions


Art Therapy

Art Therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person's physical, mental and emotional well-being. The creative process involved in expressing one's self artistically can help people to resolve issues as well as develop and manage their behaviors and feeling, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.


Behavior Modification

Behavior Modification Therapy involves reducing or eliminating behaviors and habits that are destructive, unhealthy, or undesirable and learning or increasing more appropriate behaviors. We learn to continue doing behaviors that are reinforced in some manner, and to stop doing those that aren't.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term form of psychotherapy directed at present-time issues and based on the idea that the way an individual thinks and feels affects the way he or she behaves. The focus is on problem solving, and the goal is to change clients' thought patterns in order to change their responses to difficult situations. A CBT approach can be applied to a wide range of mental health issues and conditions.


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) provides clients with new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas. First, mindfulness focuses on improving an individual's ability to accept and be present in the current moment. Second, distress tolerance is geared toward increasing a person’s tolerance of negative emotion, rather than trying to escape from it. Third, emotional regulation covers strategies to manage and change intense emotions that are causing problems in a person’s life. Fourth, interpersonal effectiveness consists of techniques that allow a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and strengthens relationships.


Eclectic Therapy

Eclectic therapy is an open, integrative form of psychotherapy that adapts to the unique needs of each specific client, depending on the problem, the treatment goals, and the person’s expectations and motivation. An eclectic therapist draws from a variety of disciplines and may use a range of proven methods to determine the best combination of therapeutic tools to help the client. In effect, an eclectic therapist customizes the therapeutic process for each individual by using whatever form of treatment, or combination of treatments, has been shown to be most effective for treating the particular problem.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)

EMDR is a unique, nontraditional form of psychotherapy designed to diminish negative feelings associated with memories of traumatic events. Unlike most forms of talk therapy, EMDR focuses less on the traumatic event itself and more on the disturbing emotions and symptoms that result from the event. Treatment includes a hand motion technique used by the therapist to guide the client’s eye movements from side to side, similar to watching a pendulum swing.


Existential Therapy

Existential therapy focuses on free-will, self-determination, and the search for meaning—often centering on you rather than on the symptom. The approach emphasizes your capacity to make rational choices and to develop to your maximum potential.


Family Systems Therapy

Family systems therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals resolve their problems in the context of their family units, where many issues are likely to begin. Each family member works together with the others to better understand their group dynamic and how their individual actions affect each other and the family unit as a whole. One of the most important premises of family systems therapy is that what happens to one member of a family happens to everyone in the family.


Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a time-limited, focused, evidence-based approach to treat mood disorders. The main goal of IPT is to improve the quality of a client’s interpersonal relationships and social functioning to help reduce their distress. IPT provides strategies to resolve problems within four key areas. First, it addresses interpersonal deficits, including social isolation or involvement in unfulfilling relationships. Second, it can help patients manage unresolved grief—if the onset of distress is linked to the death of a loved one, either recent or past. Third, IPT can help with difficult life transitions like retirement, divorce or moving to another city. Fourth, IPT is recommended for dealing with interpersonal disputes that emerge from conflicting expectations between partners, family members, close friends, or coworkers.


Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

Mindfulness Based CognitiveTherapy (MBCT) is a modified form of cognitive therapy that incorporates mindfulness practices such as meditation and breathing exercises. Using these tools, MBCT therapists teach clients how to break away from negative thought patterns that can cause a downward spiral into a depressed state so they will be able to fight off depression before it takes hold.


Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior. It is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that takes into consideration how difficult it is to make life changes.


Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy is a method that separates the person from the problem and encourages people to rely on their own skill sets to minimize the problems that exist in their everyday lives. Rather than transforming the person, narrative therapy aims to transform the effects of the problem. The technique of externalizing problems sets the stage for creating positive interactions and transforming negative communication or responses into more accepting, nonjudgmental, and meaningful exchanges.


Patient Centered Therapy

Also known as Person Centered Therapy requires the client take an active role in their treatment process with the therapist taking a non-directive role. The two main goals are to increase self-esteem and have greater openness to experience. The client will have a better self-understanding, lower levels of defensiveness, guilt and insecurity; more positive and comfortable relationships; and an increased capacity to experience and express feelings at the moment they occur.


Solution Focused Therapy

Solution Focused Therapy is goal-oriented, rather than problem focused. The philosophy of Solution Focused Therapy is emphasis on what is possible and changeable, that the client has resources and strengths to solve problems and future orientation.


Strength Centered Therapy

Strength-based therapy is a type of positive counseling that focuses more on your internal strengths and resourcefulness, and less on weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings. This focus sets up a positive mindset that helps you build on you best qualities, find your strengths, improve resilience and change your worldview to one that is more positive. A positive attitude, in turn, can help your expectations of yourself and others become more reasonable.


Definitions from Psychology Today