APPROACH & METHODOLOGY
Behavioral Therapy is a psychological method based on the premise that specific, observable, maladaptive, or self-destructive behaviors can be modiﬁed through the use of behavior modiﬁcation techniques that enable the individual to learn new, healthier behaviors. It is particularly effective with children and in addressing problematic specified behavioral patterns in adults. Positive parenting training, for example, utilizes: 1) positive reinforcements of praise, affection, attention and rewards for “green-light” behaviors, 2) briefly confronting with the need for more mature character-value based intentions & behaviors, and then the parent turning away to put the inappropriate (“yellow-light”) behaviors “on extinction” (non-reinforcement) or 3) negative consequences such as “time-out” for clearly disrespectful, harmful, egregious or dangerous “red-light” behaviors. A relevant Scripture is:
“And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted and help the weak; be patient with all men.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 14) [In other words, depending on the behavior, we adjust our way of dealing with people, in the behaviorist model of therapy.]
Two basic learning premises are applied from this theory to this therapy:
1) Whatever behavior is rewarded, will tend to continue, and those that are not rewarded (ignored or “punished”), will tend to drop out of existence. Thus, behavior therapy sets up a reward/ consequence system to change behavior. [Commonly, we use a parenting chart (See RRR Parenting chart) to list the rules to be followed and chores to be done, along with the beneficial consequences for compliance. These include a jar of money on “pay day” for compliance and “chips” earned for a good attitude and Random acts of kindness. If the child does not perform well, the parent is trained to look away and withhold attention and affection, until “green light” behaviors and attitudes occur.]
2) Whatever is associated together in time, will tend to be associated together in the brain, and therefore likely to be imitated in behavior. For example, if parents are a role model to a child, that child will tend to imitate that role model as the way to be. Behavior therapy sets up opportunities for people to associate with people, places and things which are worthy of imitating and believing in, as healthy and good. [Parents who smile and show attention and affection, for example, when a child does well, will result in the child making the connection that that behavior is correct and will associate it with love coming from the parent, and be more likely to repeat that positive response.]
Cognitive Therapy refers to a number of therapeutic approaches that seek to address emotional, psychological and/or behavioral challenges individuals may experience by helping clients evaluate and process distorted or unhealthy thought patterns and beliefs (generally called, faulty “cognitions”). In this manner clients are empowered to develop new ways of thinking and behaving that better serve them and which provide a richer life experience. This approach is used mostly with adults, but can also be utilized with intelligent children and adolescents if they have reached a developmental level appropriate for this type of intellectual work.
Relevant scriptures to this type of psychotherapy are:
“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10: 5)
“I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus Christ that nothing is unclean in (and of) itself; but to him who thinks anything is unclean, to him it is unclean”. (Romans 15:15)
Basic premises and methods about this type of therapy are:
The A > B > C sequence of processing information is a basic premise of Cognitive Therapy. An Antecedent event occurs (A) > we formulate a Belief (Cognition) in our frontal cortex (B) > the result is the Consequence of how we emotionally feel and behaviorally act, results (C). The therapy aims at changing B. We cannot change A, events outside our control, and we cannot chance C, emotions, and behaviors by themselves, only by changing B.
Thinking about thinking, and practicing self-talk to detect errors in thinking and distorted cognitions is deemed the primary mode of change during treatment.
Thinking errors include:
• Magnification events out of proportion,
• Jumping to negative conclusions about the future or about what other people are up to
• Black & white, all or none thinking, ignoring a middle ground perspective
• Taking things personally
• Tunnel vision which ignores the big picture
• Over-generalizing from one situation or person to another, as in prejudice or bias belief,
• Mislabeling, as in name-calling
• Emotional reasoning (i.e. “because I feel afraid there must be danger”) and many others
This form of therapy looks into a client’s personal story as it unfolded from early childhood until the present. Great emphasis is placed on the attachment bonds or lack thereof, supposedly formulated between children and significant others during those early stages of development before adulthood. Psychodynamic theory is used in therapy to better understand the reason for a patient’s current emotional, psychological, and relational responses and reactions. The theory entails people being “fixated” at earlier stages of development, because of things that happened to them, usually hurtful, in the past. Therapy entails finishing up “unfinished business”, such as un-forgiveness toward parents, such that “transference” does not occur in the present life circumstances and relationships of the person. During the sessions, the patient is encouraged to freely associate, basically ad-lib, whatever comes to mind, without censoring or filtering responses. This should afford a disclosure of deep expressions with hidden meanings and motives. Dream interpretation is also done if people recollect their dreams which have had a strong impression upon them.
Existential - Humanistic Therapy
This is a non-directive therapy where the therapists primarily reflect back to the patient what he or she heard the person express regarding their feelings, needs and thoughts regarding their current existence and the human condition. “Unconditional positive regard” is expressed by the therapist so the client feels free to be themselves and “get in touch with” who they are as the person, largely by simply “being in the world”.
Family / Family Systems/ Couples /Group Therapy
Couples and groups of family members are gathered together and as a group shares themselves. The therapist “reframes” the dynamics, of the group’s communications, needs, rules, motives and, often times, hidden agendas. The effect on the whole family is experienced, rather than just on individuals. The whole is often considered greater than the parts of the family membership. Family therapy prepares families to have meetings at home without the therapist.
Discovery of inappropriate rules, roles, and responsibilities is made. This results in the family therapist and the family members discussing and positively reframing every difficult situation as a useful theme and a beautiful opportunity to make a change in individuals and the family system. “Absurdity-emphasizing humor” is often used to make light of dysfunction, in a sense, to create good morale and playful participation in the therapy sessions. Interesting metaphors and similes may create a hypnotic effect on family members (i.e. it is pointed out that it is “as if” the bossy 10-year-old is the “king” of the family and he is then asked “what’s for dinner” and if the internet bill has been paid).
Hypnotherapy/ Inner Healing Prayer
Hypnotherapy is a powerful and effective method of changing the way you perceive the world. In general, it is presented as “guided imagery” and a relaxed state of learning. Individuals who are believers in Christ are actually engaging in what can rightfully be described as inner healing prayer. Whether you are wanting to change behavior, enhance performance, conquer fears or gain confidence, hypnosis is a wonderful and often short-term way to quickly affect the change you desire.
Hypnotherapy can be used in combination with psychotherapy or as a primary mode of treatment. Therapeutic hypnosis is used to address anxiety, reshape experiences, enhance performance and ultimately change behavior. Hypnotherapy, for example, can nicely be combined with behavior therapy to help people with “systematic desensitization” where the person is to relax while gradually being exposed to a situation that they are experiencing anxiety about. The use of imagination and the power of positive suggestions in a hypnotic trance are powerful tools to help people think positive about themselves, the world and the future.