The correct treatment can help a person to live well.
Utilising the proper therapeutic techniques for mental health issues allows the provider to achieve success with a client and allows the client’s mental health issues to improve. Therapeutic techniques are provided to us in academics in abundance. We receive training with different techniques. We practice different techniques. However, do we know which is best for different mental health issues?
Therapeutic techniques include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (TF-CBT), dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), play therapy, sand tray therapy, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). These are some of the most common therapeutic techniques used by counsellors and psychologists. These techniques provide a guide for the therapist. Although, there is also a consideration of which technique works best for which client.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a therapeutic technique many “beginner” counsellors use but is also used by those who have been practising for quite some time. It derives from a framework of cognitions, feelings, and behaviours. CBT is known to be a step-by-step guide and can be relevant for multiple issues. Many practitioners enjoy CBT for its easy adaptability for various mental health illnesses and ages.
A form of CBT that is focused on trauma, and helping the individual get past their trauma and symptoms.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a more skill-based technique. Often times, it is considered to work well for individuals who have bipolar disorder and/or borderline personality disorder. Though, it can work for other mental health issues as well.
Play Therapy & Sand Tray Therapy
Each of these therapeutic approaches targets children and adolescents. There are special certifications with these approaches. Though techniques can be used by the therapist, he/she are limited to identifying self as a “play therapist”.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is another trauma-focused therapeutic approach. Of note, in order to practice EMDR, the therapist must have training. This is a therapeutic approach which is not for everyone – emphasising, again, the need to understand which approach works best for each client’s needs.
Consideration of various factors helps to drive the technique used. For example, it is important to understand the client’s age, his/her needs, his/her mental health diagnosis, and the goals you and the client are working toward. These considerations help guide the therapist in the best way to work with the individual.
Knowing the Diagnosis
An initial diagnostic assessment, or evaluation, is necessary in order to determine the individual’s diagnosis. The diagnosis guides the technique used (CBT vs. DBT). Does the individual suffer from depression/anxiety or does the individual have a bipolar disorder or personality disorder diagnosis? These diagnoses help the therapist know which approach that can best suit the individual’s needs.
Understanding History and Beliefs
The diagnostic assessment also allows the therapist to understand demographics, previous treatment history (what worked vs. what didn’t work), family history, personal beliefs, etc. If the individual has tried EMDR in the past and it did not work for him/her; perhaps, the individual could benefit from TF-CBT or vice versa. If the individual has a family history of abuse and neglect, perhaps the individual needs trauma work or cognitive reframing work.
Awareness of Age and Intellectual Level
There are times in which a child is more mature, and more advanced intellectually. The assessment of their abilities to process can help guide which technique you use with the individual. Furthermore, with adults – there are times in which the adult may not be as aware and have difficulty comprehending. Awareness of this will help you determine which technique to utilise, as well as how quickly/slowly to move through the parts of the technique.
Above all, we do not want to do harm to the client. We also want to provide them with the best care possible. Therefore, consideration of these factors is important. When looking and considering these factors we also can be successful in our work which is also a good feeling. Besides we became therapists/counsellors for a reason – to help people, right?