Therapists often focus their services in a few ways: they might work with specific communities like LGBTQ2S+ or BIPOC, or they might have expertise in certain mental health needs like anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. They’ll also typically specialize in a few core treatment techniques known as modalities.
Modalities are approaches or methods that a therapist will use to help you reach your goals. Modalities fall into broad categories, such as cognitive and behavioural, somatic (body awareness), experiential (play or art therapy), and more.
In this section, we go over some of the most popular modalities for the therapists featured on First Session. Modalities can be used in conjunction with one another, and each therapist has their own approach. You can filter therapists by modality on First Session, or find modalities listed at the bottom of each therapist profile page.
As a starting point, we’ll talk about popular modalities that fit into these two broader categories: cognitive (mind) and somatic (physical). Cognitive therapies are about the mind and how thoughts relate to your emotions and behaviours.
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Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) draws from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), somatic therapy and other forms of psychotherapy. It combines talk therapy with guided eye movement exercises. It was originally developed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder; it involves recalling traumatic memories and the physical sensations that go along with it while the therapist moves an object (pen or their finger) in front of your eyes.
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a version of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). DBT is used for those who have more extreme emotional responses than average and/or have impulsive tendencies, and therefore have difficulties within various interpersonal relationships.
While cognitive therapies deal with mind and our thoughts, somatic therapies realize that we store our experiences and our emotions in our bodies. You may experience symptoms of stomach upset or back pain and not be aware that this is associated with deeply ingrained and systemic anxiety or stress.
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