The field of psychology has a penchant for acronyms.  CBT, DBT, EFT, EMDR… It can be hard to keep them all straight! If you are like most therapists, you specialize in one or two and are less familiar with other approaches.

Browsing Psychology Today’s list of nearly 70 types of therapy, you may even see a few you’ve never heard of! While 70 is a few (dozen) too many to summarize in one blog post, the following list might help to refresh your memory or expand your treatment repertoire.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that focuses on effectively dealing with life’s challenges. The core tenet of ACT is that suffering is inherent to the human condition, and avoiding negative emotions often leads to more problems. ACT involves being present in the moment and open to experiences without judgment. It teaches patients to recognize that thoughts are not facts and that aligning action with core values can lead to more meaningful life goals. ACT has been applied to a wide range of issues, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and substance abuse.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Initially designed as a treatment for borderline personality disorder, DBT is now used to treat mood disorders, self-harm, substance abuse, eating disorders, and more. Considered an evidence-based approach, DBT combines elements of CBT with concepts from dialectics and mindfulness. DBT is known for its structured and skills-based approach and is especially beneficial for patients who struggle with emotion dysregulation. It helps patients develop coping skills, improve relationships, and enhance overall emotional well-being.

Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT)

EFT views emotions as adaptive responses that provide valuable information about our needs, desires, and experiences. Some of the key principles of EFT are emotional awareness, emotion regulation, and the patient-therapist relationship as integral to emotional exploration and healing. In addition to traditional talk therapy techniques, EFT incorporates experiential interventions like role-playing, guided imagery, or the “empty chair” technique. It is used to treat a variety of issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and relationship problems.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is an evidence-based therapy for PTSD and other trauma-related difficulties. Through a structured, 8-phase approach, EMDR helps patients process distressing memories and heal from traumatic experiences. The desensitization phase involves focusing on a target memory while simultaneously engaging in bilateral stimulation through eye movements, tapping, or auditory tones. EMDR is believed to work by facilitating the brain’s natural information processing, allowing patients to more easily integrate distressing memories and reduce the emotional charge associated with them.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

ERP is a type of behavioral therapy commonly used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. The primary goal of ERP is to break the obsessive-compulsive cycle by systematically exposing patients to triggers while preventing them from engaging in their usual compulsive responses. This process is carried out in a gradual and structured manner, teaching patients that the consequences they fear either do not occur or are not as severe as they anticipated.

Internal Family Systems (IFS)

IFS is a therapeutic model that involves working with sub-personalities or “parts” within oneself. It is considered a non-pathologizing and empowering approach, as it views each part as having positive intentions and the potential for healing and growth. The goal of IFS therapy is to help patients develop healthier relationships with their parts through self-awareness and compassion. IFS Therapy is most commonly used to treat trauma-related disorders, anxiety, depression, and relationship difficulties.

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

SFBT is a goal-oriented, strengths-based approach that focuses on finding solutions to current problems rather than delving into the root cause of those problems. SFBT is based on the assumption that people have the resources necessary to create positive change in their lives. The therapist’s role is to help patients recognize and build upon their existing strengths and identify instances when the presenting issue was less severe or not present at all. Patients then use these insights to set “SMART” goals, regularly assessing their progress towards these goals. As its name suggests, SFBT is typically time-limited and is particularly useful in situations in which patients feel stuck or problem-focused approaches have not been helpful. SFBT has been applied to relationship conflicts, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and other challenges.

Phew… That’s a lot of acronyms, and nowhere near an exhaustive list! If any of these therapies sparks your interest, look for courses that offer CEU’s in addition to specialized training. Some types of treatment, such as DBT and EMDR, offer certification, which can help to set you apart from other therapists. But either way, incorporating new approaches into your therapeutic arsenal will help you reach a wider range of patients and increase referrals!

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