Like any other industry or practice, psychology can come with a lot of jargon. We know our website has unfamiliar terms so we wanted to include a glossary of therapies. This elaborates on the practices we mention throughout the website, and provides an insight into the approaches used by our team.
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a focused approach based on the premise that cognitions influence feelings
and behaviours, and that subsequent behaviours and emotions can influence cognitions. The clinician works
with individuals to identify unhelpful thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. CBT has two aspects: behaviour therapy
and cognitive therapy. Behaviour therapy is based on the theory that behaviour is learned and therefore can be
changed. Examples of behavioural techniques include exposure, activity scheduling, relaxation, and behaviour
modification. Cognitive therapy is based on the theory that distressing emotions and maladaptive behaviours
are the result of faulty patterns of thinking. Therefore, therapeutic interventions such as cognitive restructuring
and self-instructional training are aimed at replacing dysfunctional thoughts with more helpful cognitions,
which leads to an alleviation of problem thoughts, emotions, and behaviour.
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is designed to serve five functions: enhance capabilities, increase motivation,
enhance generalisation to the natural environment, structure the environment, and improve clinician
capabilities and motivation to treat effectively. The overall goal is the reduction of ineffective action tendencies
linked with deregulated emotions. It is delivered in four modes of therapy. The first mode involves a traditional
didactic relationship with the clinician. The second mode is skills training which involves teaching the four basic
DBT skills of mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. Skills
generalisation is the third mode of therapy in which the focus is on helping the individual to integrate the skills
learnt into real-life situations. The fourth mode of therapy is team consultation, which is designed to support
clinicians working with difficult clients.
Family interventions (including behavioural parent-training interventions) are defined as
interventions that explicitly focus on altering interactions between or among family members in order to improve
the functioning of the family as a unit, its subsystems, and/or the functioning of the individual members of the
family. This framework includes formal family therapy work such as systemic family therapy that views the
presenting problem(s) as patterns or systems that need changing and adjusting, rather than viewing problems
as residing in a particular person.
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a brief, structured approach that addresses interpersonal issues. The
underlying assumption of IPT is that mental health problems and interpersonal problems are interrelated.
The goal of IPT is to help clients understand how these problems, operating in their current life situation, lead
them to become distressed and put them at risk of mental health problems. Specific interpersonal problems,
as conceptualised in IPT, include interpersonal disputes, role transitions, grief, and interpersonal deficits. IPT
explores individuals’ perceptions and expectations of relationships, and aims to improve communication and
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment developed by Francine Shapiro
to assist clients exposed to traumatic events. The technique uses bilateral stimulation, right/left eye
movement, or tactile stimulation, that is said to activate cognitive processes to release emotional experiences
that are “trapped” or buried. Although EMDR may be used for different mental health problems, it has been
primarily used in trauma therapy. During an EMDR session the clinician helps the client to revisit the
traumatic event(s) and connect with the associated thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
Narrative therapy has been identified as a mode of working of particular value to Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people because it builds on the story telling that is a central part of their culture. Narrative
therapy is based on understanding the stories that people use to describe their lives. The clinician listens
to how people describe their problems as stories and helps them consider how the stories may restrict them
from overcoming their present difficulties. This therapy regards problems as being separate from people and
assists individuals to recognise the range of skills, beliefs, and abilities that they already have and have
successfully used (but may not recognise) and that they can apply to the problems in their lives. Narrative
therapy reframes the stories people tell about their lives and puts a major emphasis on identifying people’s
strengths, particularly those that they have used successfully in the past.
Play therapy uses children’s play to engage children in therapy and provide them with age-appropriate
language and context to communicate with the clinician. Clinicians trained in play therapy use a
systematic approach to identify patterns and themes in a child’s play. The clinician’s skill is to think analytically
about all that is happening in the session, including picking up on verbal and nonverbal cues as well as
information that the child communicates symbolically through the use of toys, drawings, and other play
activities. In play therapy the clinician must use the play in a skilled way tailored to the child’s presentation. For
example, the clinician may decide to use games that facilitate discussion in particular areas or may consider
that free play is preferable.
Psychoeducation involves the provision and explanation of information to clients about what is widely known
about characteristics of their diagnosis. Individuals often require specific information about their diagnosis,
such as the meaning of specific symptoms and what is known about the causes, consequences, and
implications of the problem. Information is also provided about medications, prognosis, and alleviating and
aggravating variables, as well as early signs of relapse and how these signs can be actively monitored and
effectively managed. Individuals are helped to understand their disorder to enhance their therapy and
assist them to live more productive and fulfilling lives.
Short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy is a brief, focal, transference-based therapeutic approach that
helps individuals by exploring and working through specific intrapsychic and interpersonal conflicts. It is
characterised by the exploration of a focus that can be identified by both the clinician and the individual. This
consists of material from current and past interpersonal and intrapsychic conflicts and interpretation through a
process in which the clinician is active in creating the alliance and ensuring the time-limited focus. In contrast,
long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy is openended and intensive and is characterised by a framework in which the central elements are exploration of unconscious conflicts, developmental deficits, and distortion of intrapsychic structures. Confrontation,
clarification, and interpretation are major elements, as well as the clinician’s actions in ensuring an alliance
when working in the therapeutic relationship to attain conflict resolution and greater self-awareness.
Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is a brief resource-oriented and goal-focused therapeutic
approach that helps individuals change by constructing solutions. It aims to increase optimism and positive
expectancies along with the experience of positive emotions to improve outcomes. SFBT includes using
specific techniques such as miracle and scaling questions to draw on clients’ strengths and resources to
create new meaning for clients that provides a more positive future outlook.