Approach to Counseling / Theoretical Orientation

There are many theoretical models of psychology and counseling.  Often the utilization of more than one approach, as guided by particular situations and needs, is best for the resolution of problems.  While I integrate schools of both Christian and Psychological theories and methods in my work, a Solution Focused, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach is a primary anchor to my orientation to counseling. Spiritual underpinnings, or the influence of an individual’s relationship with God as related to counseling concerns, is also a primary anchor, and is always guided by the desires of individual clients in terms of addressing these spiritual needs.

Cognitive-Behavioral therapy is a blend of behavioral and cognitive techniques, focusing on changing both thought patterns and behaviors. Aaron Beck’s Cognitive approach to therapy, in the most basic sense, rests on the premise that negative, self-defeating, automatic thoughts (distorted thoughts) are “chained” to negative affective states (unpleasant physical or emotional symptoms) such as depression or other emotional disorders.  In other words, “the way we perceive situations influences how we feel emotionally”, thus by changing our thought patterns, our emotional responses and behaviors can change as well.  To be clear, while cognition does not directly cause depression for example, how people feel and behave is largely influenced by their cognitions, and changing how people structure their experience is the most efficient way to change disordered feelings/behaviors. From a slightly different angle, behavior therapy is focused on helping an individual understand how changing their behavior can lead to changes in how they are feeling. The goal of behavior therapy is usually focused on increasing the person’s engagement in positive or socially reinforcing activities. Behavior therapy is a structured approach that carefully measures what the person is doing and then seeks to increase chances for positive experience.

I tend to embrace the combination of the above in the form of CBT, along with use of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)—developed by Albert Ellis— which combines cognitive AND behavioral elements and promotes the understanding that beliefs, emotions, and behaviors are all interdependent and that therapy should involve understanding on all these levels. As I also tend to be Solution Focused in using these approaches, therapy with me will often:

  1. reduce (but not ignore) exploration of childhood.
  2. move treatment toward exploration of daily issues.
  3. focus on what is going right in life and how to build on that to create change in other less successful areas
  4. focus on current resources and skills you have that can help you create change and reach your goals
  5. focus on common sense meaning of problems rather than generating elaborate interpretations.
  6. place primary importance on thinking and behavior, and identification and meeting of current internal needs, not unconscious motives or drives.
  7. encourage focus on the spiritual, God centered dimension of what is occurring in one’s life (client is allowed to guide the desired intensity of this focus) and the connection to relationship-driven growth and healing.

More Information on Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)