Psychoanalytic therapyThe key techniques are interpretation, dream analysis, free association, analysis of resistance, analysis of transference, and countertransference. Techniques are designed to help clients gain access to their unconscious conflicts, which leads to insight and eventual assimilation of new material by the ego.
Adlerian therapyAdlerians pay more attention to the subjective experiences of clients than to using techniques. Some techniques include gathering life-history data (family constellation, early recollections, personal priorities), sharing interpretations with clients, offering encouragement, and assisting clients in searching for new possibilities.
Existential therapyFew techniques flow from this approach because it stresses understanding first and technique second. The therapist can borrow techniques from other approaches and incorporate them in an existential framework. Diagnosis, testing, and external measurements are not deemed important. Issues addressed are freedom and responsibility, isolation and relationships, meaning and meaninglessness, living and dying.
Person-centered therapyThis approach uses few techniques but stresses the attitudes of the therapist and a “way of being.” Therapists strive for active listening, reflection of feelings, clarification, “being there” for the client, and focusing on the moment-to-moment experiencing of the client. This model does not include diagnostic testing, interpretation, taking a case history, or questioning or probing for information.
Gestalt therapyA wide range of experiments are designed to intensify experiencing and to integrate conflicting feelings. Experiments are co-created by therapist and client through an I/Thou dialogue. Therapists have latitude to creatively invent their own experiments. Formal diagnosis and testing are not a required part of therapy.
Behavior therapyThe main techniques are reinforcement, shaping, modeling, systematic desensitization, relaxation methods, flooding, eye movement and desensitization reprocessing, cognitive restructuring, social skills training, self-management programs, mindfulness and acceptance methods, behavioral rehearsal, and coaching. Diagnosis or assessment is done at the outset to determine a treatment plan. Questions concentrate on “what,” “how,” and “when” (but not “why”). Contracts and homework assignments are also typically used.
Cognitive behavior therapyTherapists use a variety of cognitive, emotive, and behavioral techniques; diverse methods are tailored to suit individual clients. This is an active, directive, time-limited, present-centered, psychoeducational, structured therapy. Some techniques include engaging in Socratic dialogue, collaborative empiricism, debating irrational beliefs, carrying out homework assignments, gathering data on assumptions one has made, keeping a record of activities, forming alternative interpretations, learning new coping skills, changing one’s language and thinking patterns, role playing, imagery, confronting faulty beliefs, self-instructional training, and stress inoculation training.
Choice theory/ Reality therapyThis is an active, directive, and didactic therapy. Skillful questioning is a central technique used for the duration of the therapy process. Various techniques may be used to get clients to evaluate what they are presently doing to see if they are willing to change. If clients decide that their present behavior is not effective, they develop a specific plan for change and make a commitment to follow through.
Feminist therapyAlthough techniques from traditional approaches are used, feminist practitioners tend to employ consciousness-raising techniques aimed at helping clients recognize the impact of gender-role socialization on their lives. Other techniques frequently used include gender-role analysis and intervention, power analysis and intervention, demystifying therapy, bibliotherapy, journal writing, therapist self-disclosure, assertiveness training, reframing and relabeling, cognitive restructuring, identifying and challenging untested beliefs, role playing, psychodramatic methods, group work, and social action.
Postmodern approachesIn solution-focused therapy the main technique involves change-talk, with emphasis on times in a client’s life when the problem was not a problem. Other techniques include creative use of questioning, the miracle question, and scaling questions, which assist clients in developing alternative stories. In narrative therapy, specific techniques include listening to a client’s problem-saturated story without getting stuck, externalizing and naming the problem, externalizing conversations, and discovering clues to competence. Narrative therapists often write letters to clients and assist them in finding an audience that will support their changes and new stories.

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