Our Models and Approaches
St John’s Cathedral Counselling Service believes that there is no one model which fits all philosophies and that the counselling model and approach needs to be tailored to each client’s needs. Based on positive psychology principles, counsellors often adopt an integrated and multi-model approach in different stages in the process. Some of the ones (but not limited to) we utilise at St John’s Cathedral Counselling Service can be found below:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
ACT is known as one of the third wave of behavioural therapies which contains the elements of the relationship with cognitions and behaviours with added elements of mindfulness practice in the treatment. The mindfulness practice helps clients to acknowledge and stay with the unpleasant emotions or sensations. Clients will practice engaging with actions that work towards their values and goals. Ultimately, ACT seeks to help clients to develop a meaningful life without the struggle to fight against unpleasant feelings.
ACT can be effective with anxiety and stress, and other emotional distresses. Clients will be engaged in developing daily habits of simple mindfulness exercises in therapy and being clear in the direction of how to seek progress towards their values.
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication. Although art therapy is particularly useful for children or individuals who find it difficult to engage in verbal communications and traditional forms of therapy, art therapists work with clients across of all ages and with a wide variety of disorders and diseases.
Art therapists choose materials and interventions appropriate to their clients’ needs and design sessions to achieve therapeutic goals and objectives. They use the creative process to help their clients increase insight, cope with stress, work through traumatic experiences, increase cognitive, memory and neurosensory abilities, improve interpersonal relationships and achieve greater self-fulfilment. Therapists may better understand a client’s feelings, perception and progress in treatment through assessing elements of their artwork. Our art therapists also incorporate several other approaches such as person-centred, cognitive behavioural, and narrative therapy in the therapeutic process.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is one of the traditional approaches with extensive research support in improving mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. CBT can help clients to gain insight from understanding their emotions and behaviours triggered by their thoughts in daily events. Irrational thinking that lead to distress will be identified in therapy, with homework and practical exercises to reinforce adaptive thoughts and behaviours outside therapy. Therapists help clients develop more adaptive thinking styles along with other behavioural exercises.
Clients are empowered to discuss with their therapists their progress and decide the course of the therapy to suit their needs.
Couple/Relationship and Family Therapy
Couple and relationship therapy focuses on working with adult relationships, particularly in marriage and long-term relationships. Couples or individuals can work with the therapists with concerns including communication and conflict resolution, values, infidelity and other dysfunctional behaviours within their relationships. The aim is that modifying behaviour, promoting healthy communications, and identifying the strengths of each partner, can strengthen the relationship and reduce emotional distance between the couple.
Therapists may sometimes see the couple individually, depending on the therapeutic process, although it is generally encouraged for couples to work together with the therapist.Clients may discuss their goals and concerns with their therapist to formulate counselling plans and objectives for all parties involved. Some of the therapeutic models utilised include the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy and Imago Couple Therapy.
The Gottman Method of Couples Therapy aims to help couples strengthen their relationships in friendship, conflict management, and creation of shared meaning. Couples learn to replace negative conflict patterns with positive interactions and to repair past hurts. Interventions designed to increase closeness and intimacy are used to improve friendship, deepen emotional connection, and create changes which enhances the couple’s shared goals. Couples are encouraged to take the assessment in the initial session which will guide the interventions forward.
Imago relationship therapy focuses on transforming conflicts between couples into opportunities for healing and growth. Couples can learn to understand each other’s feelings and “childhood wounds” more empathically, allowing them to heal themselves and their relationships so they can move toward a more “Conscious Relationship.” In the process, couples learn to become a better partner for each other.
Family therapy addresses family relationship issues within the family. The goal of the therapy is to help family members identify how specific behaviours affect others, learn new ways of relating to each other, resolve conflicts, and open lines of communication between all family members. Some of the family therapy models adopted at SJCCS include the System Model, the Satir Model and Bowen Family Therapy.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), an evidence-based therapy that is recognised as the gold standard of psychological treatment for individuals with borderline personality disorder and individuals with chronic suicidal and self-harming behaviours. Increasingly, research has shown that DBT can be effective in treating individuals with depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance dependence, ADHD and eating disorders. DBT Skills can also be used for non-clinical populations.
DBT’s philosophy is a process called dialectics. The “D” in DBT means “dialectical.” A dialectic is a synthesis or integration of opposites. Change is possible through an integrated balance between opposing forces. DBT therapists work as a team in collaboration with the client and their psychiatrist or physician.
DBT utilises a behavioural approach. This includes an assessment of the situation and associated target behaviours relevant to the clients’ goals in order to figure out how to solve the problems in their lives. The pillars of DBT involve teaching skills, which complement individual therapy. DBT skills training involves mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness and are usually taught in a group setting.
DBT helps clients learn to live in the moment, regulate their emotions and develop healthy ways to tolerate and cope with stress and improve relationships. Skills are developed to create positive changes in behaviour and interactions with others.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with trauma, through facilitating the accessing and processing of traumatic memories and other adverse life experience to bring these to an adaptive resolution by helping to activate the client’s natural healing processes.
EMDR enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can heal from psychological trauma, much as the body recovers from physical trauma. EMDR therapy demonstrates that if the brain’s information processing system is unblocked or unbalanced, emotional wounds can fester and cause intense distress. Once the block is removed, healing can resume.
Positive psychology is a new paradigm shift from traditional psychology. Traditionally, psychologists helped clients with mental health issues to reduce or remove symptoms, while positive psychology focuses on human potential and other positive, strengths-based aspects of life other than just curing mental illnesses.
Therapists will practice gratitude, character strengths, hope, and other positive aspects of humanity with clients through different exercises. It is effective in improving depression, anxiety, stress and promote well-being. Clients can nurture personal strengths and positive emotions in adversities and challenges.
This is a widely adopted approach developed by Carl Rogers in the 1940s. It emphasises fostering human potentials in therapy. Therapists will develop a non-judgmental environment with empathy, positive regard, congruence and a warm attitude to enable the clients to express their concerns. Solutions to problems that clients are facing will be developed through dialogue and reflection.
It is suitable to deal with a wide range of concerns from mental illnesses, identity issues, personal growth, relationship issues, and adjustment issues etc.
Psychodynamic therapy is a distinct traditional approach that mainly works with the effects and emotions of clients. Therapists attend to the reoccurring themes and patterns of clients in their coping of distress and relate past experiences with current situations. It also emphasises the trust and therapeutic relationship between therapists and clients.
It is effective in treating various disorders including somatic symptoms, anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. Clients are encouraged to discuss with their therapists about their progress and expectation of therapy.