Evidence-based Treatment

Dr. Claggett Woods, Dr. Freynet, and Dr. Peterson provide specialized, evidence-based care for a variety of psychological disorders. Each of the therapeutic approaches that they employ fall under the umbrella of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). A multitude of research studies demonstrate that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. To learn a bit more about the types of treatment used by our clinicians, please read on below:

Exposure and Response Prevention for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a type of behavioral therapy that exposes people to situations that provoke the intrusive thoughts that characterize OCD. The ultimate goal of ERP is to free people from the cycle of obsessions and compulsions so they can live a meaningful life that is aligned with their values.

ERP is fundamentally about shifting one’s orientation to unpleasant thoughts and feelings. When we feel able to handle discomfort and uncertainty, intrusive thoughts are no longer made important by the avoidant behaviors that teach us that the content of thoughts is both meaningful and reflective of our true nature.

Developed in the 1970s, ERP is recommended by the Canadian Psychological Association, the International OCD Foundation, and many other organizations for its wealth of scientific backing and efficacy in helping clients overcome OCD.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Prolonged Exposure (PE) is one of the most studied treatments for PTSD. Based on the large number of studies showing it is effective for use across diverse patient presentations, PE has the strongest recommendation as a treatment for PTSD in every clinical practice guideline.

Most people want to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma they experienced, but doing so reinforces their fear. By facing what has been avoided, a person can decrease symptoms of PTSD by actively learning that the trauma-related memories and cues are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided. PE teaches individuals to gradually approach trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations. Individuals work with their therapist in a safe, graduated fashion to face stimuli and situations that evoke fear and remind them of the trauma to increase their comfort and reduce their fear. The overall aim of the treatment is to help trauma survivors emotionally process their traumatic experiences to diminish or eliminate PTSD and other trauma-related symptoms.

Cognitive Processing Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) provides a way to understand why recovery from traumatic events is difficult and how symptoms of PTSD affect daily life. The focus is on identifying how traumatic experiences change thoughts and beliefs, and how thoughts influence current feelings and behaviors. An important part of the treatment is addressing ways of thinking that might keep individuals “stuck” and get in the way of recovery from symptoms of PTSD and other problems. CPT teaches you how to evaluate and change the upsetting thoughts you have had since your trauma. By changing your thoughts, you can change how you feel.

CPT was developed in the late 1980s and has been shown to be effective in reducing PTSD symptoms related to a variety of traumatic events including child abuse, combat, sexual assault, and natural disasters. CPT is endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, as well as the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, as a best practice for the treatment of PTSD.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, known as ACT (pronounced as the word “act”), is a mindfulness-based behavioral therapy that utilizes an eclectic mix of metaphor, paradox, and mindfulness skills, along with a wide range of experiential exercises and values-guided behavioral interventions. It is a transdiagnostic therapy, meaning that it has been shown to be effective for a wide range of psychological disorders. The goal of ACT is to create a rich and meaningful life, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it. This therapy is about taking effective action guided by our deepest values and in which we are fully present and engaged.

In ACT, the aim is to transform our relationship with our difficult thoughts and feelings, so that we no longer perceive them as intolerable or dangerous. Instead, we learn to perceive them as harmless, even if uncomfortable, transient psychological events. ACT interventions focus around two main processes: 1) developing acceptance of unwanted inner experiences which are out of personal control, and 2) commitment and action toward living a valued life.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is another intervention that has been shown to benefit a great number of people across all types of psychological disorders and distress. Its main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others. It aims to help people enhance their ability to manage their emotions by teaching them problem solving and coping skills. It is a skills-based treatment that is helpful for those experiencing difficulties managing difficult emotions and behaviours.

Emotion Focused Therapy

Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT) is a well-known humanistic approach to psychotherapy formulated in the 1980’s and developed in tandem with the science of adult attachment. The EFT model prioritizes emotion and emotional regulation as the key organizing agents in individual experience and key relationship interactions. Emotion is given precedence throughout treatment given its powerful role in structuring inner experience, motivation, and key interactional patterns in relationships. Emotion links and organizes core experience and interaction. With the help of the therapist's empathic understanding and the use of experiential methods, clients learn how to make healthy contact with feelings, memories, thoughts, and physical sensations that have been ignored or feared and avoided.

Habit Reversal Training

Habit Reversal Training (HRT) is the leading empirically supported treatment to address the body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) found in excoriation disorder (skin picking) and trichotillomania (hair pulling), as well as the first-line treatment for Tourette disorder.

The steps of Habit Reversal Training require practice in order to make progress:

  1. Awareness Training: learning to be aware of your behavior, thoughts, & feelings

  2. Competing Response Training: learning to do something that competes with your behavior as soon as it starts

  3. Stimulus Control: Adapting the environments in which the behaviour is most likely to occur, focusing on decreasing its likelihood during the active treatment phase

  4. Support Training: getting external - and creating internal - encouragement to do the hard work of reversing your habit.