The expert providers at the Johnson Depression Center offer a wide range of psychotherapies to help patients identify and change problematic patterns that contribute to mental health problems, and ultimately to live happier, healthier and more satisfying lives.

One of the best predictors of positive outcomes in psychotherapy is a good fit between therapist and patient. Our therapists will work with patients to help assess the fit and can provide referrals or other treatment recommendations as needed.

When patients elect to engage in psychotherapy at the Johnson Depression Center, therapists may use one or more of the research-based treatments described below to tailor treatment to the specific characteristics, cultures and preferences of each individual.

Evidence-based Therapies Offered:

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT – said as one word, not the letters) is a therapy that has gained increasing attention in recent years. ACT emphasizes processes such as mindfulness, acceptance and values in helping patients overcome obstacles in their lives.

A basic assumption of ACT is that suffering is a normal and unavoidable part of human experience and that it is actually people’s attempts to control or avoid their own painful experiences that lead to much long-term suffering.

ACT helps people learn ways to let go of the struggle with pain, be more mindful, get clarity on what really matters to them, and commit to living full, vibrant lives. The goal of therapy is not to eliminate painful parts of one’s experience of life, but rather to learn how to experience life more fully, without as much struggle, and with vitality and commitment.

The focus of Behavioral Activation (BA) is to change a person’s mood by enhancing their activities and behaviors.

Depressed people often become trapped in a vicious cycle in which they withdraw or avoid previously pleasurable activities or no longer participate in activities that give them a sense of accomplishment. The more they withdraw the less they feel their life is rewarding, and they may sink lower into a depression.

BA “activates” people to help them break out of this vicious cycle. The goal is to enhance a person’s daily activities, structure and sense of accomplishment in order to improve mood. For example, a person with depression may avoid going out to lunch with friends, which can lead to more isolation and less opportunity to experience social contact, warmth and support. BA helps patients recognize what activities have fallen away, and helps them re-establish a pattern of more rewarding activities. As people experience more rewarding activities, their depression begins to lift.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective psychotherapy for mood disorders, anxiety, trauma-related issues, impulse control, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance use disorders, insomnia and other common mental health conditions.

CBT is an active, collaborative approach that often involves the use of homework or experimenting with new activities, communication patterns, alternative thinking, and problem-solving for difficult life problems. Typically, the therapy lasts from 8 to 20 sessions, although it may last longer depending on the individual needs of the patient.

Learning to consistently think in newer, more adaptive, and helpful ways can help to reduce symptoms of depression. Many people report that these changes lead to increased meaning, satisfaction and happiness in their lives and relationships. There is strong evidence from research that CBT helps to prevent the relapse of depression by helping people learn new coping, problem-solving and thinking strategies.

CBT-I is a specific type of therapy for insomnia. It is a structured treatment in which therapists help patients identify underlying causes of insomnia and address them. Techniques may include developing healthy sleep-related thoughts and behaviors and strengthening the conditioned response of the body to sleep. CBT-I is now the first-line recommended treatment for insomnia by the American College for Physicians.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was developed to treat problems in regulating emotions. Although DBT was originally designed to treat chronically suicidal and self-injurious behavior, it has since been adapted to treat a variety of other problems and is often useful for people struggling with mood disorders and anxiety.

DBT combines techniques from cognitive-behavioral therapy with mindfulness and acceptance techniques. In DBT, clients are taught more skillful ways to regulate their emotions, deal with distressing situations in their lives, and improve relationships with people around them. These skills are taught in group and individual therapy and offer practical methods for creating a “life worth living”.

Exposure Therapy is a specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that is highly effective for treating anxiety disorders and trauma. The focus is on helping people learn strategies to gradually face their fears in a structured and paced way. Exposure Therapy is effective for many forms of anxiety but is particularly effective for people who experience trouble with frequent panic attacks, social anxiety or specific fears such as fear or heights or flying.

  • Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy
    Exposure therapy is a highly effective intervention to address specific fears and related anxieties. Using Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) as a therapeutic tool, patients are able to confront their fears such as snakes, flying on an airplane or public speaking, in a simulated and safe environment.

VRET treatment, with or without pharmaceutical intervention, provides a new hope for patients whose fears interfere with daily life. Patients are guided by the VRET experience, at an appropriate pace, in the comfort of the clinician’s office. Treatment focuses on adults, adolescents, specific phobias, panic disorder and agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) techniques serve as a method of empowering individuals through awareness, acceptance, and being present. Mindfulness is a term that means paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Practicing mindfulness can change patterns of thinking that lead to a spiral of depressive thoughts and behaviors.

Mindfulness techniques and practice may be woven into a specific evidence-based treatment as one component of an intervention or individuals may participate in mindfulness groups. In addition to becoming better acquainted with internal and external triggers for mood symptoms, participants will learn the benefits of taking action and engaging in self-care in the real world where they are likely to feel their most vulnerable.

Core aims of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy are to prevent future depressive episodes as well as to assist individuals in changing their fundamental relationship with old, inaccurate or negative thinking patterns.

Contemporary Psychodynamic Therapy focuses on identifying how past experiences may contribute to problematic life patterns. Though insight and examination in looking at life patterns, people become more able to change maladaptive patterns and experience happier, more meaningful lives. Brief psychodynamic therapy is useful in treating a wide range of mental health problems.

Areas of Focus:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Difficulty coping with major life changes and stressors (e.g. relationship changes, relocations, job stress)
  • Trauma
  • ADHD
  • Maternal Mental Health
  • Insomnia

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