Our Approach

Evidence Based Therapy Drawn From Cutting Edge Science

There is no one "cognitive behavioral therapy". The term "CBT" represents a family of therapies, that share a commitment to scientific excellence in the alleviation and prevention of suffering . . .

What this means to the consumer, is that psychologists who practice CBT are using an approach which has research based effectiveness for the treatment of a range of problems.

The therapies that are “members of this family” also have some differences.

Some therapies, like Cognitive Therapy, often aim to help clients to directly change the way that they are thinking so that they might have a more rational, positive, or functional outlook.

Other types of therapy, traditional Behavior Therapy, for example, use very direct methods of confronting feared situations to help people overcome phobias and other problems.

These CBT methods have a remarkable record of significant outcome research. Dr. Tirch and his colleagues are extensively trained, and are in fact trainers, in these traditional variations of CBT. Today, our emphasis is on recent advances in CBT that represent the further growth of evidence based psychological practice. These directions involve mindfulness, compassion, and acceptance.

Over the last decade, a quiet revolution has taken place in the sciences of the mind and psychotherapy . . .

Eastern mind training traditions, and Western psychology have come together in an unprecedented fashion, allowing the development of advanced new psychotherapies.

Concepts such as mindfulness, acceptance and compassion, which were once typically associated with Eastern meditative practices are now central therapeutic concepts that are being researched the world over.

This research is taking place in using cutting edge neuro-imaging techniques, experimental behavioral research, and randomized controlled trials of new forms of psychotherapy.  The results of this burgeoning line of scientific inquiry is an ongoing advancement in how we can better treat psychological and behavioral problems.

Three primary forms of CBT that are emphasized at The Center are ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy), CFT (Compassion Focused Therapy), and MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy).  Below, we’ve provided a brief description of these approaches:

Our approach to therapy

Shame and self-criticism make things difficult for people with a range of different problems. People who intensely experience them may struggle to feel relieved, reassured or safe. This lack of emotional safeness can cause difficulty in living rewarding lives.

Research suggests that a specialized emotion regulation system underpins feelings of reassurance, safeness and well-being. It is believed to have evolved with human attachment systems and, in particular, with the ability to register and respond with calming and a sense of well-being to being cared for. We experience this emotion system as a felt sense of compassion. This compassion can be directed at others, but it also can be aimed towards ourselves.

In CFT it is hypothesized that this emotion regulation system is poorly accessible in people with high shame and self-criticism, in whom the ‘threat detection’ based emotion regulation system dominates their orientation to their inner and outer worlds.

CFT is an integrated and multimodal approach that draws from evolutionary, social, developmental and Buddhist psychology, and neuroscience. One of its key concerns is to use compassionate mind training to help people develop and work with experiences of inner warmth, safeness and soothing, via compassion and self-compassion.

(Above adapted from the writings of CFT founder, Paul Gilbert)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a revolutionary behaviorally based psychotherapy that helps us to step out of harmful patterns of action and entanglement with painful thoughts, so that we might move forward with courage towards lives of meaning, purpose and vitality. It has been widely studied and has a strong evidence base for the treatment of depression, anxiety and a host of other problems.

Developed within a coherent theoretical and philosophical framework, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility means contacting the present moment fully as a conscious human being, and based on what the situation affords, changing or persisting in behavior in the service of chosen values.

ACT illuminates the ways that language entangles us in futile attempts to wage war against our own inner lives.

Through metaphor, paradox, and experiential exercises we can learn how to make healthy contact with thoughts, feelings, memories, and physical sensations that have been feared and avoided. We can gain the skills to recontextualize and accept these private events, develop greater clarity about personal values, and commit to needed behavior change.

(Adapted from the website of ACBS, the Association For Contextual Behavioral Science)

MBCT is based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) eight-week program, developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Research shows that MBSR is enormously empowering for patients with chronic pain, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and gastrointestinal disorders, as well as for psychological problems such as anxiety and panic.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy grew from this work. Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale adapted the MBSR program so it could be used specifically for people who had suffered repeated bouts of depression in their lives.”

(From the MBCT website)

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