Meditative Mindfulness is an approach to psychotherapy which is quickly becoming one of the more researched and empirically based forms of therapy. Psychotherapy which incorporates meditation and mindfulness skills has been found to be very helpful for people who are encountering depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors (such as gambling, pornography, eating disorders), managing emotions, impulsive behaviors, marital, parenting, and interpersonal issues, and processing intense issues such as family or origin and abuse. Most exciting is research showing that, with meditation and mindfulness training, there is actually physical changes to parts of the brain, most notably growth in the thickness of the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain where all of the most complex processes take place, such as emotional management, ability to conceptualize , and making healthy choices for behaviors, and to be planful instead of impulsive. This is the only form of psychotherapy, thus far, which has been proven to make actual physical changes to the brain. Many psychotherapists incorporate some form of meditation and mindfulness into their psychotherapeutic work. It is worth asking your psychologist if this is part of their training and practice in psychotherapy.
The Mindful Brain, by Dan Siegel, 2007.Mindfulness and Psychotherapy, by Germer, Siegel, and Fulton, 2013.
Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which patients are trained to improve their health and well-being using signals from their bodies. Patients are taught techniques to improve control of body processes that normally happen involuntarily, such as heart rate, muscle tension and skin temperature. Sensors or electrodes connected to the skin measure these processes and display them on a monitor. Patients receive immediate information (feedback) about these (biological) processes and can monitor their changes. Eventually, patients learn to recognize the changes without the aid of the monitor. Biofeedback is an effective treatment for many conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, tension headache, migraine headache and urinary incontinence. Different types of biofeedback include heart rate variability, thermal biofeedback, neurofeedback and electromyography (EMG).
Habit Reversal Training
Habit reversal training (HRT) is a multi-component program designed to reduce the frequency of targeted behaviors in habit disorders. It is an effective treatment for chronic verbal or motor tics (such as those associated with Tourette’s disorder), trichotillomania (hair pulling), nail biting, skin picking and thumbsucking. Basic components of HRT include increasing awareness of the behavior, developing and practicing a competing response and receiving social support. When functional analysis is added to HRT, it is called Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT). Techniques taught is session are practiced at home and generalized to any situation in which the behavior occurs. The goal of HRT is to reduce the frequency and/or intensity of the targeted behavior (e.g., motor and vocal tics) or replace the behavior with a more socially appropriate or less conspicuous behavior.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
Cognitive Processing Therapy — CPT is an evidence-based therapy for PTSD, endorsed by the National Center for PTSD, Veteran Affairs, and the American Psychological Association. Research has demonstrated CPT is effective for reducing symptoms of PTSD for a variety of people with a wide range of traumas. In CPT, clients learn more about PTSD, process their trauma(s), and learn how to change unhelpful thoughts about themselves, others, and the world. Some topics of focus include safety, trust, power & control, esteem, and intimacy as these are areas of a person’s life commonly affected by trauma. Clients often find that as a result of treatment, they think about the trauma less over time and are less distressed when they do think about it.
Prolonged Exposure (PE)—PE is an evidence-based therapy for PTSD, endorsed by the National Center for PTSD, Veteran Affairs, and the American Psychological Association. Research has demonstrated PE is effective for reducing symptoms of PTSD for a variety of people with a wide range of traumas. In PE, clients slowly begin to do the things they have stopped doing because of trauma but want or need be able to do. Clients also talk about the trauma. This may seem like the last thing a person would want to do, but many clients find that as a result of treatment they experience a reduction in nightmares and feeling on edge, think about the trauma less, and are less distressed when they do think about it.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)—CBT-I is an evidence-based therapy for improving sleep. Research has demonstrated that CBT-I is effective for addressing many of the factors that interfere with sleep. It can help with difficulty falling or staying asleep, improving a person’s sleep schedule, and improving the quality of someone’s sleep. It is not a treatment for sleep apnea or nightmares. Clients track their sleep and learn a variety of techniques in this treatment.