My theory of mental health incorporates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Emotion Focused Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy encompasses how maladaptive thoughts affect feelings and therefore our behavior (Tan, 2011). Contrarily, Emotion Focused Therapy focuses solely on emotions and believes that emotion is central to addressing problems and the healing process (Bailey, 2002). Both of these theories are academically sound and have research to confirm their validity. No one theory is considered to be a panacea for all clients. Together, these two theories in my model cover cognitions, emotions, and behaviors that will be able to offer to heal any patient regardless of the situation they may be encountering.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tells us that processing is vital for day-to-day functioning (Beck & Weishaar, 1995). The emotions and behaviors people experience are directly related to the way that they think (Wydo, 2001). This theory differs from Emotion-Focused Therapy first, in the sense that Emotion-Focused Therapy was created for relationships. Second, Emotion Focused therapy also does not focus as much on cognitions or behaviors because they believe that emotions are the key to healthy responses once they are uncovered (Bailey, 2002).
Cognitive Behavioral therapy tends to align with other mainstream theories that focus more on changing thoughts which will result in changes in behavior. In my theory of mental health, I decided to add Emotion-focused therapy because there is something very powerful in emotions and focusing on emotions. Emotion-Focused Therapy reconstructs and transforms emotions through a sequence of emotional healing steps (Timulak, Keogh, Chigwedere, Wilson, Ward Hevev, & Irwin, 2018).
This theory also looks at the system as a whole and tries to navigate past hurts that could have caused a person to be the way that they are (Corey, 2016).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy takes a neutral stance on its view toward humanity. Using a Cognitive Behavioral Perspective humans are neither inherently evil nor inherently good (Tan, 2011). This outlook on human nature is more complex compared to other theories. Its stance indicates that the client has some choice as well as some introspection into who they are. Since Cognitive Behavioral therapists have a neutral perspective of human nature they believe that humans have the potential to change their irrational thinking (Tan, 2011).
On the other hand, Emotion Focused therapy has a very positive view of human nature (Weiten, 2007). This theory comes from a humanistic perspective, which states that as humans we must continuously push to fulfill our fullest potential. In therapy, a therapist must help clients to continue to grow to be their best selves. Emotion-Focused
Being healthful from a Cognitive Behavioral perspective includes a client being able to be taught successful skills to cope with maladaptive cognitive problems (Corey, 2016). A person who has transformed their way of thinking to be positive would be someone who is living healthfully from this model. A result of changing their cognitions would be that a person now has healthy behaviors and emotions to correlate. A client must also have created and implemented a plan of action for when irrational thoughts do arise in their stream of consciousness. Clients should also be noticing a positive change in their behaviors due to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy working successfully (Corey, 2016).
A person who is considered to be healthy from an Emotion Focused Therapy perspective has secured a safe, intimate attachment in their relationships with others (Gurman & Frankel, 2002). The bonding and attachment in the couple’s relationship are satisfied by both parties, and each person has their basic needs met (Gurman & Frenkel, 2002). Another factor of being well-adjusted according to this theory is that a person has established emotional regulation. This would mean that their emotions are now used to strengthen themselves as a person and to create new positive meaning in their lives (McDonald, 2015). When looking particularly at couples in general one can tell that they are in harmony and are dependent on one another, rooted in an attachment that is healthy (Gurman & Frankel, 2002).
Some interferences that one can experience in the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy process may include the inability of clients to identify dysfunctional cognitions, failure of patients to reform faulty cognitions, irrational self-talk, negative behaviors, and maladaptive emotions (Corey, 2016). All of these hindrances listed above cause their everyday living to be impaired. If people are going through treatment, these deterrents would also cause delays ineffectiveness and in treatment.
In regards to hindrances that can occur in Emotion-Focused Therapy, these also differ from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Some hindrances that may occur would be a person continuing in harmful cycles with themselves or with their partner (Mutter, 2012). A client may also be avoidant of emotional processing or emotional experiences (Timulak et al., 2018). How attachments have formed between partners will influence their emotions and behaviors towards one another (Gurman & Frenkel, 2002). A negative attachment would be an enormous hindrance to the overall well-being of an individual and the relationship as a whole. Overall, the main hindrances would be people who have too little emotion or too much emotion (Corey, 2012).
Thankfully, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been around long enough so that there are many interventions that therapists can use to help their clients overcome these hindrances. One method that therapists can use would be to focus solely on the present complaints of the client and investigate the internal cognitions that accompany these complaints (Tan, 2011). Some specific techniques that could be used with this would be reattribution, labeling of distortions, thought stopping, and bibliotherapy (Tan, 2011). A therapist would implement these techniques by forming a therapeutic relationship with the positive client, but this is not a foundation of successful therapy (Tan, 2011). Therapists that use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy would also be sure that the client is achieving their goals. These goals are about the irrational cognitions that are altering emotions and behavior (Tan, 2011). The outcome of therapy is the responsibility of both the client and the therapist. Ways to measure the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy would be to evaluate the lessening of symptoms, specifically measures the occurrence of targeted behaviors, and evaluate the progress of targeted goals that are made at the beginning of treatment (Tan, 2011). If there are discoveries brought up in sessions by the client, the therapist and client can alter the goals together (Corey, 2016).
From an Emotion-Focused Therapy point of view, there are also many interventions offered. According to Greenberg (2006), four main interventions are reflection used which are: emotion awareness, emotion regulation, emotion transformation, and reflection of emotion motion. Emotional awareness involves thinking and feeling emotion in the present (Greenberg, 2006). Emotion regulation involves being able to control maladaptive emotions such as despair or anxiety (Greenberg, 2006). Emotion transformation is known as changing a maladaptive emotion into a more adaptive emotional state (Greenberg, 2006). Lastly, emotional reflection involves one being able to make meaning of their emotion. Outcomes that one could know that these interventions were working would be that the client is better able to have awareness of their emotional experiences, they can regulate their emotions, and can transform their negative emotions into more helpful ones (Greenberg, 2006). All of these outcomes would indicate that treatment is on the right track, and the client is making improvements. All of these interventions would allow the therapist to deal with the hindrances that may be afflicting the client’s overall well-being.
From a theological standpoint, there are ways that both theories align with my values and theology. Just looking at the theory by itself Cognitive Behavioral Therapy appears to be very humanistic and seems to not implement a need for God into the practice. Looking more closely, however, there are ways that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy aligns with a Christian theology. First and foremost, the theory being neutral in its view of human nature deems itself scriptural in the sense we have some ability to choose along with limited free will (Tan, 2011). This idea can be seen in therapy in the way that some things are left in the will of God and other things that we as humans can actively change about ourselves. Another way that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy could align with my values would be in how the counselor could adjust maladapted thoughts to align with Christian ideals. Romans 12:2 reads, “Do not be conformed by patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” A biblical perspective of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy would also emphasize self-sufficiency in Christ instead of relying heavily on dependency on oneself (Tan, 2011). This would lead to a greater trust in Christ.
Emotion-Focused Therapy can also connect with some aspects of Christian theology. The idea that this theory is attempting to realign the marriage relationship of mutuality is reflected in a lot of scripture (Mutter, 2012). The whole premise of this theory calls for those in a relationship to be kind to one another, create a safe atmosphere, create intimacy within the relationship, be slow to anger, and be able to forgive (Mutter, 2012). All of these principles are also scriptural. 1 Peter 3: 8-9 “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” This reference reflects how we should be in relationship with one another, and is almost identical to some of the goals for clients in Emotion-Focused Therapy.
Both of these theories have the potential to be used with Christian principles that align with my values even though that may not necessarily have been the intent of their design. When in my practice I use these models and see them through some of the lenses listed above it would transform my view of a person. I would attempt to see them more like God’s children because I know how the Lord would want them to grow as a person.
In Emotion Focused Therapy the relationship and how each partner interacts with one another is extremely important. Emotion-Focused Therapy comes from a systemic background so it emphasizes the importance of the system. An intervention a counselor may use would be to have each partner draw a genogram to show a family line and systemic wounds and patterns that they could be experiencing (Corey, 2016). For, change to occur it is important to understand the relationships one is in (Corey 2016). Being able to access the root of issues in the relationship, or system will in turn bring change to that person. On the contrary, systemic factors for Cognitive Behavioral therapy do not matter as much. A person can emotionvalidemotion-Focused-Focused break out of their dysfunctional thought patterns without looking at the system that they are in. The system is of less importance than it is in Emotion Focused Therapy; it is all about looking at the individual and how they thought their environment. I believe that both of these perspectives are validthe individual and that it depends on the person and situation a counselor is dealing with. I want to use both perspectives in my model of counseling to be able to heal people and the systems that they are in.
In regards to prevention, it has been found that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been found to have positive, significant results when treating: nicotine dependence, anxiety disorders, body dysmorphic disorders, bulimia, insomnia, personality disorders, and stress management (Hofmann, Asnaani, Vonk, Sawyer & Fang, 2012). These findings are extremely noteworthy and show the effectiveness of using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with or without pharmacological interventions. Emotion FocusedEmotion-Focused Therapy has been found to aid theindividual prevention of moderate depression, interpersonal relational problems, and some effects of childhood neglect or abuse (Greenberg & Watson, 1998). This shows the effectiveness of the theory and how powerful true investment in it can be for both the cocombininginndividual. Both of these theories combined prevent a lot of different problems that people face. I think that I would be opening the realm of possibilities of treating people by using both of these theories in my model of counseling.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has many strengths from a multicultural perspective. For instance, it is known for its strength the being abilityEmotion-Focused to work with diverse populations (Corey, 2016). The theory itself is very versatile, and therefore can be used with just about any population or age group (Tan, 2011). Another aspect of Cognitive Behavioral therapy that makes it conducive to different cultures is that it has been found to treat various problems across cultures and nations (Tan, 2011). Emotion Focus, ed Therapy, however, does not have a culturally diverse makeup. It has very Westernized ideas and principles and without the therapist being very intentional increases in each partner or family member’s culture the theory itself was not set up to do so (Pandit, Chen-Feng, Kang, Knudson-Martin & Huenergardt, 2014). canonicallycancanonically, being able to counsel different types of people is crucial. Having theories that are able to reach different populations is very important.
In regards to education and advocacy, both theories can be used in my model of mental health to better educate populations who may not have access to mental health. motionmotiony thEmotion-Focused, Emotion-Focusedere has been a huge epidemic in youth suicide rates. I think it would be very important to educate youth on some cognitive behavioral skills and techniques that could reduce stress, anxiety, and depression (Overholster, 1995). As a mental health professional, it is always important to be advocating for populations that may be at a disadvantage. Emotion Focused Therapy education would also be significant for those who are struggling in their relationships. Something that would be very beneficial would be to set up educational sessions at churches and invite couples to learn about some ways to communicate with their partner and work on their attachment and intimacy outside of a counseling session.
I believe that this model of counseling will allow me to work with a lot of different people. Through studying these theories even further I believe that my values also align if I am intentional about it. I will be curious to see how I feel about these theories after actually using them in practice, but I think they will be a good fit with what I am hoping to do in the future.