At each therapy session, Dr. Stern empowers his clients with the skills to solve problems themselves. Dr. Stern words with the client to develop an “action plan” or homework to apply what was learned during the session to their day-to-day lives. These “action plans” implement solutions to changes in the client’s thinking and actions. This process gets clients actively involved in their own treatment. As the clients begin to see positive results, they recognize that the way to get better is to make small changes in how they think and what they do every day. When treatment ends, clients are able to use the skills and tools they have learned in therapy and become their own therapist for life.
Cognitive behavior therapy is one of the few forms of psychotherapy that has been scientifically tested and found to be effective in thousands of research studies for many different social emotional, and behavioral difficulties and disorders. In contrast to other forms of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy is usually more focused on the present, more limited in duration, and more problem-solving oriented. In addition, patients learn specific skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. These skills involve identifying distorted thinking, modifying beliefs, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviors.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is helpful in helping individuals who have difficulty regulating or dealing with their emotions. DBT focuses on validating the difficulties of life’s struggles, the apparent difficulty with conflicting and intense emotions, and the desire to make important changes, DBT is a highly practical and “straight to the point” form of therapy. Rather than only focusing on overcoming life struggles, DBT also emphasizes working on creating a life you want to live.
Dr. Stern’s counseling process is structured and time-limited. He develops highly supportive, compassionate, and collaborative relationships with clients and he makes sure to tailor treatment to the individual’s specific difficulties and preferences. He focuses on helping the client feel better as quickly as possible by helping them solve current problems and learn techniques to change their unhelpful thinking, behavior, and emotional responses to current life situations. Most clients do not need to talk about childhood issues in order to overcome their difficulties. Some may, however, if they have been struggling with certain issues for a long time.
Cognitive therapy tries to work efficiently in the 45 minute session. Unlike other forms of therapy which are unstructured, you and your therapist will set an agenda for each meeting. The agenda might include a review of your experience in the previous session, your homework, one or two current problems, a review of what you’ve accomplished in this session, and homework for the next session. The goal is to solve problems, not just complain about them.
You and your therapist will work together to develop a plan of therapy. This might include how often you need to come, the relevance of medication, your diagnosis, your goals, skill acquisition, needed changes in the way you think, behave, and communicate, and other factors. As part of your treatment plan, your therapist will develop a conceptualization of the nature of your problem. This will include a review of your past experience with similar or different problems, the habitual and problematic style of thinking and behaving that characterizes your problem, and a strategy to develop new ways of thinking, behaving and interacting to help you solve your current problems and prevent them from re-occurring.
Sessions are 45 minutes. Unlike other forms of therapy which are unstructured, you and your therapist will set an agenda for each meeting. The agenda might include a review of your experience in the previous session, your homework, one or two current problems, a review of what you’ve accomplished in this session, and homework for the next session. The goal is to solve problems, not just complain about them.
If you went to a personal trainer at a health club, you would expect to get guidance on how to exercise when the trainer is not there. The same thing is true in Dr. Stern’s evidence based therapy. What you learn in therapy is what you practice outside of therapy. Research demonstrates that patients who carry out homework assignments get better faster and stay better longer.
If you are on medication, you may wish to continue to be supervised on your medication with your physician. If you would like to have us recommend a psychiatrist for medication, we will be happy to do so. In addition, we also can provide you with referrals for internists, gynecologists, and other physicians.
Dr. Stern, being both practical and collaborative, can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of medication with you. Many patients are treated without medication at all. Some disorders, however, respond better to a combination of medication and cognitive therapy. Dr. Stern collaborates with psychiatrists and primary doctors t ensure that a collaborative approach is used to help maximize success.