Treatment Approaches


Life happens everyday.  There are emotional components to the events that take place.  Instinctively, our emotions have a role to signal and guide us towards well being. However,  these emotions can be quite uncomfortable and lead to negative/destructive behaviors.

Self awareness and psychoeducation (education regarding how our emotions work) is necessary in order to be in charge of emotions rather than the emotions be in charge of us.  When we have a more in tuned connection to our own emotional experience there is a greater likelihood that we can respond with empowerment rather than a sense of helplessness.  Psychoeducation is a necessary tool to obtain and refine to cope with life as life is. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT’s main focus is how thoughts are connected to feeling which lead to behaviors that have consequences. CBT empowers awareness and challenging thoughts in order to respond in a manner that helps you achieve the outcome you desire. CBT is an evidence-based practice for depression and anxiety disorders.

Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)

A trauma is an exposure to a stressful event that has an emotional, behavioral, and/or physical reaction. What traumatizes one person may not traumatize another; therefore, how a person perceives the situation will relate to their response. Trauma reactions can be triggered by various stressors such as a car accident, bullying, abuse, violence, loss, divorce, etc. TF-CBT’s foundation is in the CBT approach; however, it also teaches new skills to help process the traumatic event. Through education, coping and relaxation skills, challenging upsetting thoughts, and increased safety and empowerment skills a participant will begin to grow as a result of their trauma rather than remain a victim of it. Family participation is beneficial for children, as the caregivers can increase their understanding of trauma and how to help support the child through the healing process.

Structured Sensory Interventions for Traumatized Children, Adolescents, Adults, and Parents (SITCAP)

SITCAP is an evidence-based treatment approach to help those who are suffering from trauma and loss. The treatment approach’s foundation is that trauma is a sensory experience, therefore the trauma memory is contained in our five senses. A trauma memory can be triggered by a sensory reminder (e.g., a smell, a location, song, etc). When a trauma memory is triggered, a person will respond as if they feel as unsafe as when the trauma occurred. The sensory interventions will tap into the sensory memory and connect it with language to help process the event in order to release those dysfunctional connections in the brain. SITCAP can help victims of trauma and loss be less reactive to trauma triggers and experience a sense of safety and empowerment.

 Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT’s core is a cognitive behavioral treatment approach. However, its focus is on helping clients by teaching and practicing skills, which will aid in decreasing emotional dysreguation and unhealthy ways of coping.

DBT consists of four main skills:

  1. Mindfulness is a skill that will help increase the ability to experience life in the present moment rather than worrying about the future or ruminating about the past.
  2. Interpersonal Effectiveness skills will help a client improve their relationships by being able to assert your needs and wants and manage conflict effectively while maintaining self respect.
  3. Distress Tolerance tools can help with high levels of stress and emotions without responding in a manner that will make the distress worse.
  4. Emotional Regulation skills are designed to help a client identify and manage emotional reactions.

DBT has been found especially effective for those with intense emotions, problems relating with others, suicidal thoughts, and other self-destructive behaviors.

Couples Therapy

Utilization of Gottman Method Couples Therapy (completed Level 1 Training in 2016).

Doctors John and Julie Gottman are partners in career and in life.  Dr. John Gottman has conducted 40 years of research with over 3000 couples.  He is the Founder and Director of the Gottman Institute.  Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Co-founder and President of the Gottman Institute. The Gottman Method is based on Dr. John Gottman’s research of the patterns of behavior that predict if relationships last or fail. The Gottman Method has created interventions to repair the specific patterns of behaviors that are predictors of divorce. Please review the Gottmans’s website to learn more about their extensive work in the couples therapy arena.

Utilization of Emotionally Focused Therapy with traumatized couples. (2016 training with Dr. Sue Johnson)

Dr. Sue Johnson is the primary Developer of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.  EFT has undergone 25 years of peer reviewed research. The treatment approach is guided by the adult attachment perspective and it focuses on develop different ways of interacting with one another in order to strengthen rather than dismantle the relationship foundation. Please review Dr. Sue Johnson’s website to learn more about their extensive work in the couples therapy arena.

Mind Body Skills for Emotional Regulation:

Mind body skills become a language for self-awareness, centering, expression, and great insight into helping promote an empowered perspective over everyday life situations, uncomfortable emotions, and traumas.

Mind-body skills highlighted : breath work, focused awareness, guided imagery, and expressive arts.

Creative Expression:

Expressive arts can be a fun, relaxing way to help connect feelings with language and self-understanding. A variety of creative expression activities are utilized in conjunction with the above-explained evidenced-based treatment approaches. Creative expression is not required and is only utilized if the client is comfortable with the intervention.

It is important to talk to your child or teen before the first session, but it can be difficult to figure out how. Here are some ideas on how to explain what counseling is and what to expect:

How to explain to your teen about coming to counseling

Counseling is a safe place to express your thoughts and feelings to someone that is neutral. The counselor is there to give you her full attention and listen to what you have to say. Her job is to help you figure out how to deal with the things that are making it to tough to be happy. The first time we go, Amie will ask some questions about the things that are going well and the things that you wish would change. She wants to hear about what you want and what you think holds you back. She can help us look for solutions to problems, figure out how to deal with the things we can’t fix, and learn ways to cope with the tough feelings. What you talk to Amie about is private, but she also helps families learn how to listen to each other and communicate better. (See confidentiality issues for privacy information). It’s your (the teen’s) job to interview Amie to make sure she is the person that you are comfortable talking to about the stuff that is going on. Let’s go and give this a shot and we can talk about how you felt about it after you meet with her.

How to explain to your young child about going to counseling

Counseling is a safe and fun place to talk about all kinds of feelings.  All of your feeling are ok but some feeling are uncomfortable and powerful.  Sometimes we need help to problem solve and to be in charge of feeling that get really strong. Counseling is fun!  There are fun ways to help to feel better like games, drawing, painting.

The first time we meet with Amie she is going to ask us some questions about the things we like and don’t like.  Her job is to have her ears open to listen and help us learn how to feel better.  How about we go one time to see if we like it, and we can decide if she is the right counselor for us?