Counceling Center of Greater Hartford

Methods and Approaches

Guided Imagery Counseling Alexander Technique
Brief Solution Therapy
Career Counseling
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Dream Analysis
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)
Eye Movement Desenitization Reprocessing(EMDR)
Family Systems Therapy
Gestalt Counseling and Therapy
Guided Imagery Counseling
Internal Family Systems (IFS)
Jungian Psychotherapy
Meditation and Mindfulness Practices
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

The Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is a dynamic learning process, designed to ignite attentiveness and responsiveness and provide a concrete means for overcoming restrictive habits. F.M. Alexander, (1869-1955), former performer and equestrian, demonstrated that the difficulties many people experience in learning, performance, and in physical functioning are caused by unconscious habits. These habits interfere with the body's natural poise and the capacity to learn. He discovered that tension patterns learned at an early age, trauma, injury, or illness, could impede our natural state of wellness and ease of movement.

The release of muscular tension is vital to our well-being. If our muscles are habitually over-tightened our bodies become distorted, unbalanced and compressed. The Alexander Technique offers a way to let go of such destructive tension by learning to monitor the way we coordinate ourselves in any activity so that we can carry out that activity with a minimum of strain. The technique has been used to address TMJ, migraines, back pain, anxiety and depression.

The Alexander Technique has been taught for over a century and has been publicly endorsed by a number of prominent individuals who have used the technique to improve their lives. Some of these individuals are George Bernard Shaw, Roald Dahl, Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, Kevin Kline, Judy Dench, Hillary Swank, Sting, Paul McCartney, Yedudi Menuhin, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Jackie Kennedy Onassis, to name a few.

The Alexander Technique is not a therapy for the passive. It is for the person interested in working towards his or her goals. Sessions are usually 30, 45 or 60 minutes and include basic activity work and/or table work. It is recommended that a student of the technique commit to five to ten sessions initially.

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Career Counseling

Our society values work, but many working people don't always feel particularly valued these days. The rewards of working have to be more than just material: there is nothing obsolete about the term "job satisfaction." And there is nothing wrong with wanting to make a change in jobs, even in established careers. If you've been on the other end of a career decision-- you've been laid off, or transferred to Cleveland, you know how hard a sudden change can be when somebody else decides to make it for you. Either way, it will affect you and people around you. That's why you have to get your financial, practical and emotional ducks in a row, and seek out someone who can help you organize all the questions flying around in your head.

Questions to Ask Yourself
Is this job, this career path, what I want to do for the next X years?
I always had a talent for (X.) Is there a way I can make a living at it?
I just got out of school. How do I go about getting a job?
My company makes a lousy product; is it moral for me to help them sell it?
A machine replaced me. How do I reinvent myself?
I was downsized. How do I build myself up again?
I'm burnt out. What do I need to do to recover?
I feel too old to work, and too young to retire!

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Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a belief and a treatment that will help you understand that your thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in your behavior. The goal of CBT is to help you understand that you cannot control every aspect of your life or your world, but you can learn to take control of your interpretations and reactions. CBT is widely practiced, and is commonly used to treat phobias, addiction, depression and anxiety. During the course of treatment, you will learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior.

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Dream Analysis

Thoughts on Dreams
Edward Edinger has said, "The purpose of human life is the creation of consciousness." If consciousness is our goal, then our dreams are the royal road to that goal. To undertake an encounter with one's own dreams becomes a sometimes painful but ultimately rewarding journey into a richer and more meaningful life.

One afternoon in early spring, a nicely dressed man in a business suit entered my office for the first time. From our brief introductory telephone visit, I knew he was middle aged, financially successful, but depressed and unhappy with his work. As we settled into our conversation, I asked about his dreams, particularly those with a recurring theme. He replied that he kept waking up from a dream where someone was chasing him. Taking this cue, I asked what hopes and fantasies he felt were unlived in his life. He began to talk about his love of art, how he had been educated as a teacher, but had followed a career in business instead. When I suggested perhaps he would enjoy teaching, he said how wonderful and welcome a change it would be. However, he knew it would be impossible to leave his lucrative employment to pursue something he would love doing. He then mentioned a dream from the previous night. He was standing at a window in a tall building. He knew he had to jump, but he wondered if God would cushion his fall. I said that perhaps his psyche was asking him to step into a bigger life, that sometimes our soul requires a "leap of faith." Fast forward: he is teaching now and he loves it.

A very educated woman was troubled by dreams of a dark stranger, an undistinguishable man who kept appearing in frightening ways. She was terrified, and asked what she might do. Feeling he was very important, I said she might ask him what he wanted. The following week, she reported this dream: "I was sitting at my kitchen table, and this dark presence appeared in the doorway to my left. I remembered what my therapist had said, and I simply asked what he wanted. Out of this ominous dark mass emerged a very handsome man who said quietly, "I only want to be loved." Since then, I have felt at peace."

Dreams form a bridge between the limited sphere of our ego's awareness and the infinitely greater sphere of the Self. The fullness of who we actually are is only partially realized by our ego awareness. The above examples illustrate how the objective psyche supports the development of the personality by encouraging the ego consciousness to embrace neglected, ignored or denied aspects of our selves. Simply putting the contents of our dreams on the table, letting them see the light of day, helps us to integrate those aspects of the personality, which are in need of redemption.

Dreams also have a healing function. A man was called to the bedside of his dying father. Hospitalized, comatose, with vital functions being supported by medication and a respirator, the family watched the much-loved father's labored breathing. After a third EEG indicated no brain activity, the decision was made to discontinue the medication, which supported cardiac functioning. As time passed, the vital signs began deteriorating. The man watched as these indicators dropped, and suddenly was struck by the idea that he had just killed his father. The thought was interrupted by a noise nearby, and forgotten until several months later until one night, in a dream, he was standing again at the foot of his dying father's hospital bed. Once again he was struck by the thought, "I have just killed my father." Waves of grief swept over him, and he wept and wept, finally awakening, sobbing as emotions welled up from deep inside.

Several months later, this same man had a second startling dream. He was sitting outside on a garden bench with his father, who appeared quite elderly. The man put his arm around his father, feeling the gentle curvature of the old man's back, something he had often done late in his father's life. Once again, waves of emotion swept through his body and he awakened sobbing in tears as unlived grief surged up from the depths.

This grief finally showed itself to be moving toward resolution in the following dream several months later, where the man, his present age, was in the yard of his childhood home. His father, now middle aged and the picture of health, came around the corner of the house pushing a wheelbarrow. As the father went by him, wheelbarrow in hand, the son exclaimed, "Dad, you sure look great!" He awakened from this dream with a sense of contentment.

This dream sequence illustrates the progression of the grieving process, which is taking place on the unconscious level. The dream becomes the window by which consciousness is able to participate in the greater life of the Self. The objective psyche is autonomous, and the grieving process is taking place in the greater unconscious personality quite independent of ego awareness. When the voice of the dream is heard, a dialogue takes place between ego and Self which broadens the conscious perspective of the dreamer by bringing the conte+ts of the unconscious, in this case grief, into consciousness. This creates meaning on three levels: within that individual, in that individual's relationships with others, and in the collective as a whole.

As Edinger points out, "The purpose of human life is the creation of consciousness." Our dreams can function as guides along a path toward redeeming the individual life from whatever has it out of balance or off track. The more we are able to live consciously and in harmony with this greater personality, the more completely our unique individual life will be manifested and fulfilled and the more meaningful an existence we attain.

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Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Emotionally focused therapy is a structured short-term approach to working with individuals, couples, or families. It includes elements of different models of therapy including attachment theory. This approach works from the premise that emotions are connected to our most essential needs and have an adaptive potential if activated. When people's inability to manage their emotions or to use them well becomes problematic, EFT can help by increasing emotional awareness and regulation.

EFT views emotions as being centrally important in the experience of self and others, in both adaptive and maladaptive functioning, and in therapeutic change. From this perspective, change occurs within the context of an empathetically attuned relationship. Transformation comes from learning to experience new emotional responses in place of old maladaptive ones, while the therapist guides clients to draw on their compassion and connection.

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Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (E.M.D.R.)
Founded and described in part by Francine Shapiro:

EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that resolves the trauma-related disorders caused by exposure to distressing events such as rape, military combat, or other such experiences. The usual cognitive and neurological coping mechanisms get overwhelmed when someone experiences a traumatic or distressing event. The associated stimuli and memory of the event are inadequately processed, and are dysfunctionally stored in an isolated memory network.

The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reduce their lingering effects, and to allow individuals to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms. EMDR is different from other therapies because of its unique element of bilateral stimulation of the brain through the use of eye movements, tones, or tapping during sessions.

EMDR also utilizes dual attention awareness to allow the individual to go back and forth between the traumatic material and the safety of the present moment. This can help prevent re-trauma from exposure to the disturbing memory. The theory underlying EMDR treatment is that it works by helping the sufferer to process distressing memories more fully which reduces the distress. EMDR has been heavily researched, and has been found to be very effective.

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Family Systems Therapy

Family systems therapy is based on the belief that individuals are best understood through assessing the entire family. It suggests that families are systems of interconnected and interdependent individuals, with each having his/her own role to play. Individuals cannot be fully understood in isolation from one another or from the family system, because the family is an emotional unit. It would be like trying to figure out a single puzzle piece without seeing the whole puzzle, or the role that each piece has in the whole picture.

Individuals may carry a symptom for the entire family, because symptoms in individuals are often seen as expressions of dysfunctions in the family unit. As a result, a change in one member affects all members. However, individuals can have symptoms existing independently from the family members, but these symptoms always have ramifications for family members. Therefore, family therapists will help treat the system in order to affect a change in the individual.

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Gestalt Therapy

Gestalt is a holistic, organic therapy that works at the deepest layers of the personality. Gestalt practitioners seek a thorough knowledge of child development, since many of the unfilled needs, which become evident in the course of therapy, are the residual affect of specific stages of childhood. Human beings are walking histories of the past, and the body is the historian.

How we develop, how we were treated, and how we did or did not recover is revealed in our beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, relationships thoughts and feelings. Some of those attitudes and beliefs may be creating destructive outcomes. Gestalt therapy helps people to identify and release rigid childhood defenses and substitute those defenses with effective, and flexible boundaries.

Gestalt is a very patient therapy that takes people where they are in life. It helps identify and validate individual character strengths and helps people build on them. It identifies and appreciates each person's defenses, resistance and ego strength. Another goal of Gestalt therapy is to help people have a healthy adulthood, one that is not run by the childhood experience; and to help people navigate the ordinary ups and downs of life.

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Guided Imagery Counseling

Guided imagery is a program of directed thoughts and suggestions that guide the imagination toward a relaxed and focused state. Guided imagery is based on the concept that the body, mind and spirit are connected. When all of the senses are engaged in the imagery process, the body seems to respond as though what is being imagined is real.

An example often used is to imagine a tree. Then imagine the bark, and the color of the leaves. Continue to imagine yourself climbing the tree and resting on a large limb, or lying at the foot of the tree and allowing your body to relax into the crevices and roots of the tree. A relaxed state of body, mind and spirit can be achieved during this process and when we are relaxed we are more likely to learn, sleep, create, perform and heal better.

What is guided imagery used for?
Guided imagery has many uses. It is used to promote relaxation, which can lower blood pressure and reduce other problems related to stress. Guided imagery is used to imagine positive outcomes, or calm the mind before surgery or before performing. It is used to help control emotions and thoughts, which in return may improve attitude, health, and sense of well being.

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Internal Family Systems (IFS) Model
Founded and described in part by Richard Schwartz:

Trauma impacts people. Often the part(s) of a person that experience trauma hold onto the negative energy, emotions, hurtful messages, and memories of the event, and don't know how to release them or be free from them. IFS can help with this unburdening process.

The IFS model believes in the multiplicity of the mind, or that we are made up of many different parts of us that feel, think, believe, and act differently from our other parts. This model helps people to work with their inner family of "parts" or the conflicted sub-personalities that reside within them in their inner lives, and believes that parts take on different roles, and develop inner relationships between themselves. The roles and relationships of these parts are not static and can be worked with if one intervened carefully and respectfully. This model is very versatile in its application to a variety of challenges, particularly trauma, and works well with individuals, couples, and families, across the age spectrum.

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Jungian Psychotherapy

The process of psychotherapy from a Jungian perspective is best described as the creation of consciousness. Beginning with the premise that there is much more going on in the individual personality than what we are aware of, one discovers the activity of the objective psyche in dreams and in the autonomous emotions that arise spontaneously from within us. From this activity, we recognize aspects of one's greater self that can be integrated into our experience of our selves, leading to a fuller understanding of the individual life.

From Edinger's Job, 1) the ego is wounded by being exposed, 2) the ego suffers 3) the ego does not become cynical or resort to personalistic answers. This process leads to the ego being rewarded with an experience of the transpersonal dimension of the psyche as a compensation for the suffering.

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Meditation and Mindfulness Practices

What is meditation and why would I want to learn it?

"Any product of thought is not proper meditation, as that is the mind's memory. Meditation is a total negation of everything that mankind has created. To meditate is to refuse all postures, breathing and exercises, as those are things that are set in motion by thought. Meditation is the total comprehension of the whole of existence, the place from which correct action flows. Meditation is an absolute silence of mind, not relative silence that is a lack of noise, but absolute silence that is an absence of the sense of self. Order, projection, and structure are silenced. Such is true freedom. Only in that total and complete silence do we abide in truth…………a state in which time no longer exists".
Edited version of source unknown.

The above quote is a very pure description of meditation in which the consciousness of thought and self are negated. Meditation is an approach that anyone can use to help cope with restlessness, medical problems, stress, and anxiety. According to Buddhism this is the most important thing we can do, and the only real antidote to the pain, anxiety, fear, hatred, and confusion that plague the human condition. A meditation practice will help you learn the patterns and habits of your mind and offer a means to cultivate a new, and more positive way of being.

The more recognized meditations are Transcendental Meditation, Prayer, Zen meditation, Taoist meditation, Mindfulness Meditation, and Buddhist Meditation. Some methods of meditation may require the body being absolutely still, while other types allow for free movement of the body. While the methods are different, the end goal of meditation is a mind that is quiet and free from stress. Movement practices, like Tai Chi and The Alexander Technique are also ways to help the body "center" and increase balance and stability.

The therapists at Counseling Center of Greater Hartford can help you develop a meditation or movement practice and help you explore which practice would suit you best.

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Myers-Briggs-Type Indicator

How we support your process of growth and change.
Many people put off seeing a therapist because they're afraid "they won't know what to do."
You can't do it wrong. When you walk into the Center, you've taken an important step, and the next step is up to the counselor you've chosen.
He or she will likely begin with some questions that allow both of you to start on some common ground. The questions help your therapist determine some basics along the following lines:

What makes you you?
Unique gifts. Likes and dislikes. Motivators. Turn-offs. Strengths. Potential for growth. Tolerance for change. Pressures. Doubts. Belief in your ability to set a goal and work toward achieving it.

What is your psychological type?
This is a way to get a handle on your personality using much more than just some initial impressions. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung developed this technique to bring the differences between people into a sharper focus. He found people behave differently because we have been "wired" since birth with tendencies to use our minds in different ways.
When you act on these tendencies, patterns develop. These patterns can be grouped. It doesn't mean you can be labeled or pigeon-holed into one of sixteen "types," rather that your work can begin more quickly when the types you aren't can be set aside.

What do you think? What do you feel?
Jung also believed very strongly that the intellect is, at best, only half of what defines you. Some very smart people feel confused and sad a lot of the time. Like our counselors, Jung looked for other "intelligences" in the complete human being… the heart, the spirit, the body, and, finally, all of them working in harmony.
"Emotion is the chief source of all becoming-conscious; there can be no transformation of the dark into the light, and the still into the moving without emotion" - C.G. Jung

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