Evidence-Based Treatments

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a goal-oriented, short-term therapy approach to problem solving. CBT, which was developed by Aaron Beck, MD, focuses on the idea that our thoughts influence our mood and behavior. By altering our thoughts, we can change our behaviors and emotions. CBT tends to be short and lasts only about 4-7 months, with one 50-minute session per week. CBT is primarily used to treat anxiety and depression, but has been empirically supported to also work with a variety of other problems. Sessions typically begin with a weekly check-in, followed by setting a session agenda, where the therapist gives summaries as needed. The therapist will then assign the client homework and summarizes the session, giving feedback as needed.

Family Focused Treatment

Family Focused Therapy (FFT) has been empirically tested to treat bipolar disorder, typically with adolescents. FFT focuses on changing the way family members interact, improving how they function as a unit, and improving how they function individually. Several studies have shown that FFT benefits both the family members involved in the treatment, as well as the patient. During sessions, the patient and family members meet with a therapist trained in working with bipolar disorder teaching skills such as psychoeducation, coping skills, behavior management, and communication skills.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an empirically supported form of cognitive therapy developed by Marsha Linehan in the late 1980’s. DBT is primarily used to treat borderline personality disorder, as well as other mental health disorders. DBT focuses on balancing acceptance and change. Being a part of DBT includes the following: several assessment and pre-treatment sessions; weekly individual therapy; weekly group skills training; coaching from therapist in between sessions to help the client generalize the skills they learned; and weekly DBT therapist meetings. In order to participate in a DBT program, all five of these categories must be met. At STAR, we focus on skills training, where we teach mindfulness skills, emotion regulation skills, interpersonal effectiveness skills, and tolerating emotional distress skills. Clients are typically taught one skill per session, and are often assigned diary cards to fill out each day of the week and bring in to session on a weekly basis.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is focused on helping client’s understand how altering their behavior can also lead to changes in how they feel. The goal of behavioral therapy, which has been empirically tested to treat anxiety disorders, is to change potentially self-destructing behaviors. Behavior therapy seeks to increase chances for positive experiences by self-monitoring, scheduling weekly activities, role-playing, and behavior modification techniques. Psychoeducation, mood scaling, weekly check-ins are often used in a typical weekly session.

Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is designed to treat posttraumatic stress disorder in children. TF-CBT was initially developed to focus on the trauma of associated with child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and traumatic loss, to name a few. TF-CBT is designed for therapists to provide parallel treatment to children and their parents or guardian, with several conjoint parent-child sessions included. TF-CBT generally lasts between 12-16 sessions, and focuses on the following components: psychoeducation and parenting skills, relaxation skills, affect expression, regulation skills, cognitive coping skills, processing, a trauma narrative, in-vivo exposure when needed, and enhancing safety and future development.

Parent Management Training

Parent management training (PMT) trains parents to manage their children’s behavioral problems both at home and in school. In PMT, parent-child interactions are altered in ways to promote prosocial behavior in children and to decrease oppositional or antisocial behavior. Treatment sessions typically include social learning techniques instruction, where the therapist will provide psychoeducation, models the technique, and coaches the parent on implementing the skill in the home. Parents are also taught how to observe, define, and record their child’s behaviors in order to better understand the problems behaviors. PMT is one of the most extensively studied treatments for children that has been shown to decrease oppositional, aggressive, and antisocial behavior.