Therapy Today – Modern approaches to psychotherapy and personal change
Talking therapies have come a long way to get to the modern, powerful techniques and approaches that we have today. At Mindfulness Mavericks we use the most effective, up to date approaches available.
Therapy has been around for thousands of years, yet it took Sigmund Freud to make it worthy of academic and professional investigation. Interestingly, we do still use some very ancient techniques like mindfulness, because they’re still just as effective today as they’ve ever been. The age old proven techniques tend to be modernised, reinvented and dressed up with modern psychological jargon sounding names to make them more appealing.
Because of the magnitude of people suffering with psychological distress, huge efforts have been put into developing more effective therapeutic approaches to efficiently relieve this mass suffering. Over time we’ve seen many therapies come and go. Some ineffective ones are no longer used; some are still being used in spite of the overwhelming lack of evidence that they work.
Today there are new and highly effective therapeutic approaches that help people make lasting changes and improvements to their lives. These are characterised by their compassionate approach to clients and scientific rigour behind their development. These modern therapies are grounded in solid theoretical understandings, and are often backed by significant neuroscience and thorough investigations into their short and long-term effectiveness.
What has driven many therapists and researchers to come up with these better approaches is a compassion and desire to be more efficient and effective at relieving the psychological suffering in our society. Obviously it’s better and more ethical to have techniques that are faster, easier, less painful and give more lasting results.
‘Old School’ therapy was based around the ‘Expert’ Therapist listening to the ‘Broken’ client. This is an out-dated and disempowering approach. The modern therapeutic relationship is much more of an equal partnership. The client brings their life experiences, with their huge wealth of knowledge about how their life runs. The therapist brings their training, skills and ability to spot patterns in thinking that could be limiting the client.
Modern therapy aims to help clients find ‘workable’ solutions to get past their current difficulties. Gone are the days where the therapist always knows best. Therapy is a process of education and experimentation. It’s about trying out new ideas to find out what works for each client in their own unique circumstances. If we experiment with something that we find doesn’t work, we stay creative and flexible and do something else until we find what works better.
Modern therapeutic approaches are grounded in neuroscience. That means they work with how the brain actually works. Many older (slow and often painful) therapies were based on out-dated ideas that are incompatible with how our brains actually work. Today we better understand the brain structures, the neurochemicals flowing around, what they do and how they work. Understanding this allows the therapist to work better and more efficiently with a client, helping them to find effective mental strategies and solutions for common challenges.
From the attitudes of compassion and a desire to do a better job some excellent major therapeutic interventions have been developed. These include ACT, Havening, NLP, Coaching and Mindfulness.
Here at Mindfulness Mavericks we use these new approaches as they work so well for our clients. Many have demanding jobs and careers so want a practical approach to getting past their difficulties that’s low on suffering and high on efficiency.
ACT (Acceptance and commitment therapy)
ACT is relatively unknown yet has been under development since the ‘80s. It has been found to out-perform the current ‘front-runners’ such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and many pharmaceutical interventions.
ACT has mindfulness at its core and focuses on several areas – What is actually happening to the client; Changing the client’s relationship to the thoughts, feeling and sensations that are causing issues; Following a life based on sound and relevant values; Taking committed action.
An ACT therapist uses a combination of questioning, storytelling, metaphors, simple exercises, mindfulness and education about how the mind works. There is a genuine collaboration between the client and therapist to find the best, workable solutions for the client.
ACT is far easier and more satisfying for the client than the conventional therapy approach of digging into a painful past or fighting with/battling against their difficulties.
Havening – a breakthrough treatment for traumas and major stressful events
This therapeutic approach is very new. The first practitioner training in the world was in 2013, and we Mindfulness Mavericks were trained by its developers in London in 2014.
Havening helps people get free from past traumas that still cause difficulties in their life today. It uses a system of talking and therapeutic touch to de-link the painful (often debilitating) feelings from the memories of past traumatic events.
Havening is rooted in solid neuroscience and a thorough understanding of how the brain stores and works with memories. We now know that different types of memories are stored in different parts of the brain.
Normal memories are stored in a location that’s accessible to language and where the memories can be recalled when wanted.
Memories of stressful or life-threatening traumatic events get stored in a separate location in the brain that’s not accessible through language. Recall of these happens automatically as part of our inbuilt safety and survival mechanism. These memories get triggered as a warning mechanism to automatically alert us if we might be in danger. They often take the form of uncontrollable fears, anxiety, panic attacks or other unexplainable symptoms.
Because of the storage location in the brain for these traumatic memories, they are not accessible to, and can’t be shifted by regular talking therapies.
Many people who come for Havening have been through talking therapy and have found it’s not helped, or it helped for a while but didn’t last long. This gives a clue that there could be underlying traumatic memories that need the emotional ‘punch’ taking out of them – which is what Havening is designed to do. With conventional talking therapies, the underlying trauma is not accessible so can never be permanently removed.
Although Havening can be incredibly fast at dealing with these past events, it’s most effective when used as part of ongoing therapy or coaching.
Why? – Imagine a situation where somebody in his or her youth had a major traumatic event that has taken away his or her freedom to live a ‘normal’ life. Over the next decades of life they will have designed their life around having these difficulties, and made major decisions based on this. In other words, their life today is very different to how it might have been without the underlying trauma. This chasm can be massive and in itself can cause major distress. The surrounding coaching and therapy is to help get past this problem and move on to designing and living a rich and rewarding life.
Strictly speaking Memory Reconsolidation is not a therapy it is a mechanism in our brains, to update things we have learned, which are no longer relevant to our lives today. Many of the things we learn are done unconsciously. In therapy, this mechanism is significant when it comes to a type of memory called Emotional Memories. Historically, it was believed this type of memory was permanent. Research now conclusively proves that in humans, they can be changed.
Emotional Memories are a special class of memory. They are recorded by our brains when we find ourselves in an incident which carries a lot of emotions. Then later, if we find ourselves approaching a similar situation, our brain vividly brings those emotions to mind, warning us. However, the mechanism is not very intelligent, what can happen is memories get triggered too easily in mildly related situations. This is where many of our problems can come from.
In therapy, the majority of issues clients bring are caused by Emotional Memories. Sometimes they’re obvious and other times not easy to identify. Often they show up in the rules and beliefs we have. Rules such as “I can’t…”, “mustn’t…” And so on. Beliefs such as “I’m not good enough…” ” a fraud…” “deserve it…” are another way these memories can show up.
Emotional Memories cannot be changed rationally, or by talking about them. It requires very precise procedures which the scientists have worked out.
Havening is one of the first therapeutic approaches designed around this brain process.
Changing habits and strategies with NLP and Coaching
Human life tends to be held together by a set of habits and strategies that we’ve developed and learned to do automatically over the years. Some of these work very well for us and help us elegantly get on with life with few difficulties. However, many of these habits and strategies have been developed by accident and don’t really serve us well at all.
NLP gives us ways to look at any habits and strategies that don’t work well for us and exchange them for ones that do. It allows us to understand how the language we use affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviours to produce the results we get.
NLP skills are a bit like having the manual for the software in our own minds. It gives us a way to identify out-dated ‘mental programs’ and replace them with updated ones designed to support you better in the life you want to live now.
Old ingrained habits can be difficult to see in your own life and even more difficult to change on your own. With NLP and coaching you’ll be taught effective strategies to help you create and install new habits. You will also get the ongoing support to ensure those new useful habits will stick over time and become an effortless part of your daily life.
Mindfulness is a life-enhancing skill that takes a little time to learn, yet can take a lifetime to master.
It helps people see more clearly what’s going on in their life. It can reduce stress and overwhelm, so you make better decisions, have better relationships and enjoy more peace of mind.
Mindfulness is often learned in formal classes that use meditation and mindfulness exercises to develop the skills. ACT helps people develop mindfulness skills differently by using carefully designed metaphors and techniques instead of using meditation.
People who learn to develop their mindfulness skills find that they’re more resilient and more robust in times of difficulties. They tend to be more present in their own life and report that they are happier and enjoy life much more.
Mindfulness has traditionally been taught teacher to pupil. It’s only in the last couple of decades that mindfulness has broken free from the monastery or the Guru and become a regular part of the secular world.
Information about mindfulness is now plentiful, however there’s a difference between ‘knowing about’ something and ‘really knowing’ something. A good teacher can help you learn mindfulness more quickly than if you just read about it and ‘try bits’ out for yourself. A good teacher can accelerate your learning so you can really enjoy the fruits of knowing mindfulness.
Big changes in how people receive therapy.
Originally people would make a series of appointments at a therapist offers, then turn up sometimes for years. More recently groups were found to be effective for many areas of change.
Today with the radical changes in what therapy consists of, and generally significantly fewer sessions are needed, also today therapy is more like coaching for the mind, then telephone, Skype or even online sessions are more the normal. Here at Mindfulness Mavericks most of our one-to-one clients are remote from us and we use Skype or telephone. This change to working via phone or Skype, is also true for psychotherapists, counsellors, life coaches and other therapists.
Working remotely like this has significant advantages especially for the client. No commuting, and usually more convenient appointment times.
Whre next for you?
So there you have it, therapy isn’t what it used to be. It’s no longer about mending broken people. Instead it’s about healing old wounds and learning new skills. Today it can be an efficient and painless way to get you past your difficulties and into enjoying a creative and enjoyable life.
As private coaches and therapist, we at Mindfulness Mavericks we can use all these approaches and many more to help our clients get better more quickly without unnecessary pain. We both have over 20 years experience working one-to-one with clients to help them get past difficulties and into living an enjoyable and meaningful life.
If you feel that we might be able to help you call us on (0114) 299 8888
Read more about what it’s like to work with us.