MODELS OF THERAPY
INTENSIVE SHORT-TERM DYNAMIC PSYCHOTHERAPY (ISTDP)
We are programmed to avoid pain.
If we were to touch a hot stove and burn ourselves, we would do everything we could to prevent that from happening again.
We treat painful thoughts and painful feelings the same way we would treat the hot stove.
We will often try to prevent ourselves from experiencing painful thoughts and feelings again. The problem with this system is that an avoided feeling is like a ball of energy, and if it is not felt, it has to go somewhere
Unexperienced feelings go into anxiety and defence.
When we believe we are not allowed to experience our feelings or that they are too big to deal with the emotional energy must still be discharged somewhere. The result is that our unwanted feelings either manifest as ANXIETY or something called DEFENSES.
Defenses are the mind’s way of distracting us from the unwanted feelings - calling our attention to “bells and whistles over here and forget about that feeling over there”.
A synonym for "Defense" is "Coping Strategy." Coping strategies can be helpful or harmful (see below).
Defenses (Coping Strategies) are automatic.
Our defenses are often developed from years of experience, starting from a very young age. As an adult our defenses operate unconsciously and automatically, usually without us being aware of what is happening.
The first step to healing is awareness.
ISTDP first aims to help us become aware of when our unhelpful / destructive defenses are active (anxiety depression, substance abuse, etc). With greater awareness we can interrupt the defenses in an effort to then work through the painful avoided emotions. When these difficult emotions have been processed we often experience a significant reduction in symptoms because we no longer have to hide the painful memories and emotions.
This therapy can be very mobilizing and intense.
While it is extremely effective for many people, it is not a good fit for everyone.
ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY
Authenticity is essential for Mental Health.
Similar to ISTDP, the ACT model of therapy believes that avoidance of unwanted thoughts and feelings is what drives our symptoms of anxiety, depression, etc. When we engage in behaviours that are not in line with our values and beliefs in order to avoid unwanted thoughts and feelings we become unwell.
A recipe for recovery.
ACT therapy explores several different domains and focuses on:
VALUES - clarifying what is important to us.
PRESENCE (AKA Mindfulness) - a skill we train to keep our attention on our own experience (sensations, thoughts, feelings) in the present moment instead of ruminating about the past, being completely preoccupied by what others may be thinking, or excessive worries of the future.
DEFUSION STRATEGIES - practicing tools to help us get unhooked from the thoughts and feelings that get in the way of us pursuing the life we want to live (i.e., living in line with our values).
ACCEPTANCE - instead of spending time avoiding unwanted thoughts and feelings we foster an attitude of acceptance. When there is room for our total experience we can take actions that are in line with our values, regardless of what thoughts and feelings we may be experiencing.
COMMITMENT - living our values is easy when the world agrees with our direction. ACT helps us commit ourselves to living a value based life regardless of the conditions we find ourselves in.
THE OBSERVER - ACT aims to help us develop different aspects of the self: The observer and our ongoing self awareness.
This therapy is offered in a group format, and is helpful for anyone who has become so focused on what they don’t want (ie. I don’t want to fail, have people mad at me, look foolish etc) that they have lost sight of what they do want- and are ready to start to get their lives back on track!
ACT CORE SESSIONS
Our ACT CORE consists of twelve (12) sessions - ten (10) weekly 3h meetings on WEDNESDAYS FROM 1-4 pm, a one month booster, and a three month booster (on TUESDAYS). Participants must commit to the whole course of therapy.
*Admission to ACT CORE requires an initial assessment conducted by Dr. E. A. Wilson.
ACT BOOSTER SESSIONS
TUESDAYS FROM 1-4 pm
You must attend ACT CORE with Dr. E. A. Wilson in order to attend ACT BOOSTERS.
ACT BOOSTER sessions will help you practice and refine skills and concepts discussed in ACT CORE.
*Space is limited. You must register ahead of time.