Theoretical Orientation

Theoretical orientation may be of issues for you. This describes the therapists’ basic philosophy and belief system regarding what is causing your distress and how the therapist approaches working with you. Ask your therapist about their theoretical orientation and how they propose to work with the general problem described. Below is a very brief summary of the various different theoretical orientations. If an orientation is not presented below, you may wish to ask for more information as there are various treatment techniques encompassed by the orientations as well as novel techniques or orientations that have not had research support.

Depending upon the referring question and type of problem, different therapeutic approaches may be helpful in differing ways.

BEHAVIORAL: This theory is founded on the belief that behaviors can influence our attitudes and feelings. Based more on physiological responses, clients are taught to pair desired behaviors with reinforcement and extinguish unwanted behaviors with unwanted consequences.

BIOFEEDBACK: Clients learn to utilize monitors of internal functions such as temperature, brain waves or heart rate to assist them in developing awareness of their physiological responses. Biofeedback therapy also helps clients learn how to control some of these physiological responses to improve coping with stress or other health related problems.

COGNITIVE/BEHAVIORAL: In this type of therapy, the therapist takes an educational stance and is usually active in the therapy, directing the patient and providing therapeutic homework. It is based upon the notion that negative emotions are elicited through negative self statements, irrational beliefs and self-defeating behaviors. Due to its nature, cognitive behavioral therapy has traditionally been seen as more time-limited, directive and usually requires that patients have the capacity to examine their inner belief systems and are more verbal.

FAMILY SYSTEMS: The family is seen as an organized system in which each member plays a part. Examination of each member’s specific roles and how those roles affect them in their current relationships is the main focus.

FEMINIST THERAPY: focuses upon assisting women develop an understanding of the traditional molds which may contribute to poor self-esteem and difficulty asserting rights. This is a therapy which is often utilized for victims of sexual and/or spousal abuse.

PLAY THERAPY: Is based upon some of the precepts of psychodynamic therapy, but utilizes toys, art work and play for both children and adults to examine emotional issues, provide mastery over negative emotion states as well as find alternative solutions. Play therapy is usually utilized with children due to their relatively limited verbal capability, but has been found to be helpful for adults as well.

PSYCHOANALYTIC (encompasses a variety of theories including, psychodynamic, Jungian depth, object and self psychology): This type of therapy usually requires good verbal and insight capabilities. It is based upon the belief that unconscious thoughts, motives and feelings drive our behaviors. The therapist works to help the client reduce symptoms and resolve internal conflicts by raising awareness of unconscious drives through self examination.

SOLUTION FOCUSED: Solution focused treatment begins by pointing out the strengths of the client and tries to assist the client in recognizing when the symptoms diminish or are absent. Utilizing these moments of symptom abatement as a starting point, the therapist works with the client to build upon these moments to decrease the moments of depression and/or anxiety.

ECLECTIC: Since human behavior is vast and varied, eclectic therapist may utilize a variety of theoretical approaches and techniques to assist in the therapeutic process.

© San Joaquin Valley Psychological Association
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software