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Frequently Used Terms


Below you'll find a list of terms that I may use in my integrative counseling therapy practice and on this site:


ACT: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It is a reformed and newer subtype of CBT that focuses on accepting one's thoughts and feelings and then committing to values-based action to improve satisfaction with life

CBT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a type of therapy first invented by a psychiatrist in the 1960s named Aaron Beck. In short, it involves the triad of thoughts, behaviors, and feelings, and using practical tools that help to explore and challenge thoughts, find and practice better-feeling thoughts, and sometimes use behaviors to reinforce positive change.

Cognitive distortions: a concept in CBT that refers to several types of common thinking errors, or irrational thoughts. ex. mental filtering, black & white thinking, emotional reasoning, and fortune telling

DBT: Dialectic Behavioral Therapy. In short, a type of therapy that uses many tools invented primarily by Marsha Linehan, an American psychologist, who used the concepts first to treat her own Borderline Personality Disorder. It has 4 modules that can often be taught in a group class: Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance.

EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. A type of therapy practiced by someone who is either “EMDR trained” or “EMDR certified.” It uses bilateral body movements while re-experiencing (retelling) past traumatic events in order to process them; does not require a diagnosis of PTSD.

Functional medicine: a relatively new branch of medicine that involves “root cause analysis,” or searching for the root of one’s physical and often accompanying mental health symptoms; ex. someone can be given pain medicine for a broken wrist, but medicine doesn’t address the root cause of the pain, which is a broken wrist; something must also be done to address the broken bone. This can be helpful to mental health because physical conditions can be a root cause for mental health conditions: a deeply distressing experience or set of experiences that tend to cause lasting psychological and accompanying/related physical effects.

Hypervigilance: a common symptom of anxiety and PTSD, which involves feeling overly aware of one’s surroundings and ready to respond to danger, but the awareness is out of proportion to the real danger

Integrative medicine: practiced by a doctor who is willing to incorporate non-conventional treatments as well as conventional, such as prescribing acupuncture, or suggesting a type of diet or herbal remedy

LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor. Someone (like me) who has at least a master’s degree in a psychology field, and a license from their state board of counseling and therapy. They may be called Licensed Mental Health Professionals/Counselors in other states.

Multi-factorial approach: treatment for a disorder or diagnosis that involves trying many tools or types of changes, ex. treating anxiety with CBT, avoiding caffeine, doing yoga, and practicing sleep hygiene

Note: A nurse practitioner (NP) can also specialize in psychiatric medicine and prescribe it

Psychiatrist: a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in psychological disorders and can prescribe medication. Unlike in the movies, they almost never provide any therapy.

Psychologist: has a doctorate (a PhD or PsyD) in psychology, is licensed by their state board of psychology, and does therapy or scientific research, but usually not both. They can do assessments that a regular therapist can’t, which diagnose things like ADHD, learning disorders, and autism, as well as use diagnostic and personality tests that might be used for purposes in court, for certain jobs (like police officer or air traffic controller), or to determine eligibility for a special condition (e.g. the “Right to Die”)

Socratic questioning: a concept in CBT referring to questions that help challenge one’s core beliefs, ex. “What is the evidence for this thought?” “What would I tell a friend who had this belief?”

Trauma: a deeply distressing experience or set of experiences that tend to cause lasting psychological and accompanying/related physical effects.

Big T” vs. “small t” trauma: informally, “big T” trauma is generally thought of as resulting from life-threatening events such as earthquakes, transportation accidents, or witnessing or experiencing violence; “small t” trauma would encompass distressing experiences that were not quite as threatening

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