Counseling Models and Approaches

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT draws upon the knowledge that our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and bodily sensations are interconnected and have a direct affect on one another. A therapist who uses CBT will help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and bodily sensations, will help you find ways to implement actionable change, and often times will encourage you to practice skills in your day to day life. One main skill learned is how to challenge “cognitive distortions” (our unhelpful ways of thinking, i.e. black-white thinking, catastrophic thinking, etc.).

PsychoDynamic Therapy

A Psychodynamic therapist will help you 1) identify and avoid distress-causing defense mechanisms (denial, projection, repression, etc.), 2) help you uncover what may have been pushed out of your conscious awareness, and 3) will help you focus on gaining important insights about your past and current situations. While the therapeutic relationship is very important in all types of therapy, a Psychodynamic therapist utilizes the therapeutic relationship to help you gain insight into how your interaction patterns may help or hinder relationships with others in your life.

Mindfulness Therapy

When people hear the term mindfulness, they often think of meditation. While that can be a component, mindfulness simply put is awareness of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in the present moment, focusing on acceptance and not judging oneself (especially if the mind races or becomes distracted). Overtime, this practice can promote a sense of calmness, insightfulness, and many other benefits. A therapist who uses mindfulness will use psychoeducation to teach you mindfulness principles and how to use mindfulness in your daily life. Mindfulness can often be coupled with other forms of therapy: cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, art therapy, play therapy, and family therapy to name a few. 

Personal Centered Counseling

A Person-Centered therapist focuses on the notion human beings often already have the solutions inside them. Your therapist will act as a compassionate listener without leading the conversation in certain direction. Your therapist will see you with unconditional positive regard, focus on empathic understanding, and strive to be personable and congruent in session. Through their thoughtful reflections and acknowledgment of your own journey, a person-centered therapist will create the environment you need to discover your own paths and solutions, by deliberately letting you take the conversation where you need it to go. This type of therapy is considered “non-directive” and is often used in conjunction with other forms of therapy.

Family Systems Therapy

A therapist who uses Family Systems Therapy helps the client by working with the whole family unit. The therapist can bring awareness to what is causing the individual stress and how to address the problem. Topics discussed often include family interaction patterns, roles played, communication, and unexpressed feelings. The therapist works with the family to foster a stronger unit that can support the client in a more healthy and open way.

Play Therapy

Click here for Parent/Guardian Expectations for Child Therapy at Counseling Professionals PLLC.

While sometimes used with teenagers and adults, play therapy helps children with social, emotional, and behavioral concerns express themselves in their natural form of exploration and communication: play. While there are many types of play therapy, a therapist who uses play therapy selects specially chosen toys and art supplies to foster growth, self-awareness, impulse control, emotional identification, emotional regulation, and many other areas in the child’s life. These therapists often work with parents/guardians to provide insights to possible triggers for the child’s concerns and often provide parent coaching and/or family therapy.

Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT)

Used with other therapies, or stand-alone treatment, this type of therapy focuses heavily on goal-setting and setting specific interventions to get you there. SFBT focuses less on analyzing problems, past events, and pathology…and focuses more on present problems and resolution. Your therapist can use scaling questions, clear goal setting techniques, and work as your partner to come up with individualized interventions in hopes of providing solutions to your current problems.

Structure Therapy

This popular family therapy examines family dynamics in hopes of improving family interactions. A therapist who uses this modality will visually map out family problems, engage all family members present, and encourages mutual understanding between members. Clear interventions are identified and role played in session to empower each family member to practice skills outside of session.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

This technique used by many therapists can help you gain insight, clarity, and motivation towards areas of your life you want to change. Your therapist will empathize with you how hard change can be and help you remove any obstacles in your way.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)

This type of therapy focuses on thoughts that may be holding you back and how to start taking control of them. Similar to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, REBT helps you challenge your irrational thought patterns and focus more on rational, helpful beliefs. REBT postulates that when you work with a therapist to change your negative thoughts to positive, and you let go of those unhelpful views, many areas of your life will improve and achieving your goals become much easier. Your therapist may use many techniques such as thought challenging, visualization, and homework.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

This approach combines many helpful techniques to help manage difficult emotions and decrease interpersonal conflict. DBT typically focuses on four skills: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. These skills can also be taught by a DBT therapist in a group setting. Like the name suggests, DBT can help you be more comfortable with balancing dialectic or opposing ideas. This can help you develop a both-and perspective, rather than either-or.

Group Counseling

While going to individual therapy one-one-one with a therapist is helpful, attending group counseling offers the benefit of processing emotions and growing with peers that may be experiencing the same problems. Some groups are more process oriented, some more psycho-educational, and some combine the two. In any group, the importance of members maintaining each other’s confidentiality outside of group is emphasized.

Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT)

A therapist using this approach helps you understand how your relationships impact your life, by focusing on an important part of human relationships: attachment. This approach is often used in couples or family counseling. Regardless of used in individual, family, or couples counseling, EFT can help you learn how to discover helpful and unhelpful interaction patterns, to communicate more effectively, and express your emotions more authentically.


In biofeedback you learn about the connections between your physiological and mental states by tracking your physical responses in session. Your therapist may use electronic sensors and/or a specialized belt to track heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and/or muscle tension. The goal is to create awareness of the physical and mental states of times of distress and calm. Then, your therapist will teach you techniques (such as mindfulness or deep breathing) to take more control of your bodily responses in hopes of easing mental symptoms.

EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

EMDR is primarily used to decrease negative feelings associated with trauma. Your therapist will help you focus on the distressing feelings, decide which thoughts and feelings you would like to replace, and guide you through a process called desensitization. At one point in therapy, your therapist will use a technique designed to help activate the brain as you process these negative feelings. This technique involves moving your eyes back and forth in your line of sight.


Hypnosis is often defined as a deep state of focus. Unlike how it is often portrayed in the media, you will not be asleep and will still be in control of yourself. In hypnotherapy, your therapist can help you achieve this deep state of concentration and relaxation in order to take a deeper look at what you want to change and how to achieve your goals. A therapist trained in hypnotherapy can help you decide if this treatment is a good fit for you and how long treatment will be.

Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt Therapy can help you focus on your “here and now” and become aware of thoughts and behavior that block true contentment. Your therapist can help you become aware of these blocks in session and may use many experiential techniques such as mindfulness, role play, art, etc. These can help focus you to bring your emotions, thoughts, and past experiences to the present moment in session.

Career Counseling

Therapists who provide career counseling believe mental health and contentment in your career are closely tied. These therapist often administer career inventories or personality tests to help someone choose or change a career.

Positive Psychology

While negative symptoms are often what bring people to therapy, this type of therapy focuses on positive character traits, strategies, or experiences that can improve your day to day life. There is less focus on the cause of your problems, and more focus on your strengths. Your therapist will help you become more self-aware of your strengths in various aspects of your life and how to harness them to bring more happiness, autonomy, and hope to your life.

Evaluation and Assessment

Sports and Performance Therapy

Some therapists specialize in working with performers and athletes to strengthen their mindset and optimize their mental game. Your therapist can help you with areas including focus, motivation, anxiety, mindset, negative self-talk, anger, etc.

School/Education Advocate

If you or your child are in school and are facing a learning disability or other mental health concerns, a trained therapist with experience working with the school system can help advocate for Individual Education Plans, 504 Plans, or other accommodations/changes in the school settings. These therapists partner with teachers, school counselors, school psychologists, and other staff members to become part of a team that is there to support you or your child.

Pet Assistance and Support

If you are interested in getting an emotional support animal, a trained therapist can discuss this option with you and provide a letter supporting your decision.