A basic assumption of ACT is that suffering is a normal and unavoidable part of human experience and that it is actually people’s attempts to control or avoid their own painful experiences that lead to much long-term suffering. ACT helps people learn ways to let go of the struggle with pain, be more mindful, get clarity on what really matters to them, and to commit to living full, vibrant lives.
ACT uses mindfulness practices to help people become aware of and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion toward painful thoughts and feelings. Additionally, ACT heavily emphasizes the role of values to help people create meaningful lives. ACT is centered on such questions as “What do you really want your life to be about?” or “If you lived in a world where you could have your life be about anything, what would it be?”
ACT has also been adapted to create a non-therapy version of the same processes, called Acceptance and Commitment Training. This training process, oriented toward the development of mindfulness, acceptance, and values skills in nonclinical settings, such as businesses or schools, has also been investigated in a handful of research studies with good preliminary results.
BA is designed to manage the consequences often seen with someone who is suffering from depressed mood. BA focuses on the depressed person’s behaviours that keep him or her stuck in depression. The behavioural counsellor helps the client examine their triggers for depression-related behaviours, as well as the effects of depressive behaviour on mood and pursuit of important activities (e.g. attending work). Acting as a coach, the behavioural counsellor encourages the client to engage in behaviours that disrupt the cycle of depression. Clients who participate in BA learn how to examine the interactions among their behaviours and moods, how to stop the cycle of depression, and how to prevent future depressive episodes.
PE is specifically designed to address the symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Early in counselling, the client creates a list of situations that are safe, but typically avoided because they cause anxiety. Together with the psychotherapist, the client learns to approach each situation on the list, starting with the easiest ones, and stay in each situation for a specific amount of time. By staying in previously avoided situations, the client develops new skills for handling anxiety, learns how to re-evaluate their perceptions of danger, and increases their self-confidence. Additionally, PE includes processing the traumatic event by talking about it in a safe and supportive atmosphere. Because approaching avoided situations and reimagining traumatic events can be very difficult, our psychotherapists work in a compassionate and collaborative manner to help people achieve success with PE.
Behaviour Therapy (BT) focuses on an individual’s learnt, or conditioned, behaviour and how this can be changed. The approach assumes that if a behaviour can be learnt, then it can be unlearnt (or reconditioned), therefore, it is useful for dealing with issues such as phobias or addictions.
Behaviour therapy helps a person understand how changing his or her behaviour can lead to positive changes in his/her life. Often, the focus is on helping the person engage in positive or value-consistent behaviours. The behavioural counsellor works with the client to examine the barriers to or difficulties in engaging in these types of behaviours. The behavioural counsellor also teaches the client to analyze their own behaviour, as well as the effects their behaviours have on mood and other areas of life. This approach tends to be more time-limited and focused on a specific problem that the person is encountering.
Cognitive Therapy (CT) deals with thoughts and perceptions, and how these can affect feelings and behaviour. By reassessing negative thoughts, an individual can learn more flexible, positive ways of thinking, which can ultimately affect their feelings and behaviour towards those thoughts.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioural treatment that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and it is now recognized as the gold standard of psychological treatment for this population. In addition, research has shown that it is effective in addressing a wide range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.
ACT uses mindfulness practices to help people become aware of and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion toward painful thoughts and feelings.
BA is designed to treat depression. BA focuses on the depressed person’s behaviors that keep him or her stuck in depression.
PE is specifically designed to treat the symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
BT focuses on an individual’s learnt, or conditioned, behaviour and how this can be changed.
CT deals with thoughts and perceptions, and how these can affect feelings and behaviour.
DBT is now recognized as the gold standard of psychological treatment for this population.