The counseling process with an adult may take several forms. Our approach for adults is referred to as Internal Family Systems (IFS) psycho-dynamic (attachment theory). This means that we view the indivual as a complex system of needs and wants that are not always actualized or integrated and that the relationship dynamics between the client and therapist are used as a basis for self-discovery. This may incorporate the therapist sharing how they experience the client in an effort to help them see how they may be experienced by others. This may incorporate the therapist asking the patient to delve into deeper historical context of some negative feelings.
In some cases, it is appropriate to engage therapy in a narrative form with the use of journaling and reflection. This means that a client will go through their own lifetime experiences. This task should not be undertaken lightly, and could take a significant amount of time and effort to reach completion. This reflection experience helps the client gain insight into the impact of childhood experiences and begin to start the healing process from the point of origin.
While adults primarily process their feelings through verbalization, children more readily process their feelings through their play. This is because children don’t have the developmental advantages and cognitive tools that we see expressed in adults. Our approach with children is usually non-directive Play Therapy. In a therapeutic environment, the child experiences attunement, unconditional positive regard, and validation by the practitioner. The practitioner notices and validates character behavior, rather than product I.e. “you worked hard”. The practitioner’s goal is to help the child experientially understand, “I’m here. I hear you. I care. I understand” In this environment, the child can effectively process their experiences and feelings.
Skills coaching incorporates techniques and education on mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. This approach is not clinical counseling and does not incorporate exploration or analysis of the patient’s emotional health. This approach is commonly used in conjunction with biofeedback and Neurofeedback. Those who choose this approach do so because they wish to develop a better skills for self-regulation.
EMDR is an evidence based approach for changing negative feelings or negative self believes. This approach is widely covered in the books, Getting Past Your Past, by Francine Shapiro and The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk. This approach is a process that requires at least a few sessions of talk therapy. Ask your therapist if this approach is right for you. This approach works best with acute trauma.