Family Works Central

Making Aotearoa New Zealand
the best place to raise children
in flourishing families

Types of counselling therapy

Counselling focuses on your individual situation, beliefs and relationships. At Family Works our counsellors use three main types of counselling therapy to find the best ways of drawing on your untapped resources. They are Narrative Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT).

Narrative Therapy

Narrative Therapy focuses on understanding the stories or themes that have shaped a person’s life and searching for the meaning in those stories. ‘Dominant stories’ and ‘alternative stories’ are considered along with ‘dominant plots’ and ‘alternative plots’. Events are then linked together over time to understand their implications for your past, present and future actions.

Narrative therapy also focuses on how important stories can be rewritten and reshaped so that you have a more constructive meaning attached to the life story. Using this therapy you can learn how to externalise or separate from your problems so you can overcome them in a more emotionally detached way.

Narrative Therapy is a respectful, non-blaming approach to counselling which acknowledges that people are the experts in their own lives.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a structured and goal oriented approach to treating emotional problems. It involves both ‘cognitive therapy’ which looks at your thinking patterns, and ‘behaviour therapy’ which looks at associated actions.

Through CBT, a Family Works counsellor will work with you to identify unhelpful and distressing thoughts and behaviours, then you’ll be supported to utilise more helpful thoughts and behaviours. This can help you overcome the symptoms you’re experiencing, and teach you new skills and strategies to apply to future problems.

CBT is effective with a variety of emotional, psychological and psychiatric difficulties, and the results are long term – you can keep using what you learn in therapy to approach other problems in your life. For some problems, such as anxiety and depression, CBT is as effective as medication, and can also enhance the effects of medication.

CBT is continually evolving. ‘Third wave’ CBT therapies such as Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behaviour therapy (DBT) are increasingly being used for a variety of emotional, behavioural and mental health problems.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples is based on attachment theory. The goal is to provide a stronger, more secure bond between couples by improving the pattern of interactions. By tracking and exposing the unhealthy cycles many couples get stuck in ‘a dance of negative interactions that keeps them stuck and unable to resolve their conflicts’.

EFT moves couples from entrenched positions where, often, one person shuts down (the avoider) and the other person becomes increasingly angry and demanding (the pursuer), to more emotionally responsive and healthy interactions. Such attempts to cope arise from a sense of fear, anxiety, rejection, inadequacy and powerlessness. Following EFT, many couples describe feeling more alive, more intimate and more connected with one another.

EFT is often used in conjunction with Narrative Therapy, and has been validated by more than 20 years of empirical research.