The COGNITIVE model of therapy is based on the knowledge that distorted thinking causes depression and anxiety. "Cognition" is a fancy word for thoughts. For example, if you're on an airplane and you think, "this plane is going to crash," and then you imagine people screaming and the plane bursting into flames, you will probably have a panic attack. In this example, your fear does not come from the turbulence itself, but from the negative thoughts and images about the turbulence. When you change the way you think, you change the way you feel and behave.
The EXPOSURE model is based on the knowledge that avoidance is the cause of anxiety. You will feel anxious because you avoid the things that you fear. If you're afraid of heights, you'll probably avoid climbing ladders. If you feel shy, you'll avoid social situations. According to this theory, when you stop avoiding and start confronting your fears your anxiety will eventually disappear.
The HIDDEN EMOTION model is based on the knoweldge that niceness is the cause of anxiety and depression. For example, people who are too nice fear conflict and hold in all their thoughts and feelings. When they are upset, they hold it in because they don't want to upset anyone. The repressed feelings resurface in the form of panic, anxiety, worries, fears, or depression. Learning to be assertive, cope with conflict, and be expressive leads to feelings of relief, calm, and happiness.
The BEHAVIORAL model is based on the knowledge that our problematic or pathological behaviors are learned through classical and operant conditioning and modeling. The goal is to develop interventions to change and manage behavior, for example, someone suffering from alcoholism may remove all the alcohol from their home, or stop spending time with certain friends, or change their daily routines in order to avoid coming into contact with situations where alcohol is present. Behavior is a response of our own internal processes and it is highly influenced by what happens immediately before it and after it.
The FAMILY SYSTEMS model is based on the knowledge that anxiety and depression are secondary to family conflicts and other problems with family relationships and family dynamics. Family therapy works to improve family relationships and resolve coflicts. Family therapy may include marital therapy or involve parents and children. Interperanal therapy is a similar model but works on resolving relationship problems through individual therapy.
The ADDICTION model theorizes that behavior problems are a form of addiction. For example, one disorder called Trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling) would be seen as a psychological or physical addiction. The hair pulling might, theorectically be reinforced by the release of opiates (endorphins) in the brain when the individual pulls their hair and that individuals become addicted to the pleasure that the hair pulling creates. There was one study by Dr. Gary Christensen in 1994 which suggests that in some cases, this theory may be true, but more research needs to be done.
The PSYCHODYNAMIC model is interested in how childhood relationships and experiences affect our current mental health. This model says that our behaviour and feelings as adults are rooted in our childhood experiences.
Relationships (especially with our parents) are of primary importance in determining how we feel and behave. A recent study has shown that individuals who suffer from severe mental health problems, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, may benefit from the psychodynamic but in a long term duration of therapy and without medications. It is suspected that medications may somehow inhibit the natural expression of emotions and learning to cope with these emotions.
The SOLUTION FOCUSED model focuses on your personal goals rather than on the problems. The approach focuses on the present and future. The therapist may use solution-focused questions and other techniques to help you achieve your goals over time.
The ECLECTIC or INTEGRATED model is an approach that uses techniques and knowledge from many other models. It says that no one model can explain all problems and therefore, the therapist must develop a new theory for every client. PSC staff are mostly eclectic in their approach, using techniques from most of these models.
The BIOLOGICAL model is based on the idea that anxiety and depression result from chemical imbalances in the brain and that you will have to take a pill to correct it. Common pills for depression and anxiety are Prozac, Zoloft, Abilify, Xanax, Ativan, and Valium, but there are tens of dozens more. Some doctors think that these medications are the only truly effective treatment for depression and anxiety and that you'll have to take them the rest of your life, similar to how someone may take insulin for diabetes the rest of their life. The biological model is controversial. For example, Dr. David Burns who began his career as a full time psychopharmacologist no longer believes that medications are necessary and he prefers drug-free treatment for anxiety and depression. "In my experience, [cognitive techniques are] much more effective, they work much faster, and they're also superior in the long run because you'll have the tools you need to overcome painful mood swings for the rest of your life (Burns, David, When Panic Attacks, 2007).