MY APPROACH TO THERAPY
I want to take a moment to help you understand the types of therapy that I offer. First and foremost, I should state that being an effective therapist is an art. Good therapists tend to be the kinds of people that others go to naturally for help and advice because they are trustworthy and have an inborn talent to counsel others. They can be compared to renowned artists like Michelangelo, Da Vinci, or Van Gogh who were born with talent that no art class could ever teach.
While there is an inborn component to my ability and desire to work as a Psychologist, I have also invested enormous amounts of time and energy into my education and training. Over the years, I have accumulated thousands of direct supervision hours working with couples, families, children, adolescents, and adults. I have also received thousands of hours of direct supervision in psychological assessments of various types. I am educated and trained in evidence based treatment approaches. This means that, I practice therapies that have been scientifically validated on real people, with real world problems.
1) COUPLES THERAPY
Being in a successful relationship is harder than it looks. Good, stable marriages and relationships require a lot of hard work, and good communication. It’s unfortunate, but a lot of times, we take our partner or spouse for granted. I can’t count the number of times my clients have told me that their partner treats everyone else with respect, but the person that they are supposed to be in love with is always getting the short end of the stick. Maybe you are experiencing the agony of a marital affair, the devastation of finding out you cannot have children, or the realization that over the years you and your partner have become just “roommates.” As hopeless and daunting as it may seem in these situations, couples therapy can help. Sometimes, we find ourselves constantly being attracted to the wrong person, or getting out of one bad relationship just to find ourselves dating the same kind of person down the road. There are actual, scientifically documented, reasons for why behaviours like this can happen. As cliché as it might sound, it probably all started in your childhood.
Regardless of the specifically tailored therapeutic approach I use in couples therapy, I always start off with a solid foundation in attachment theory. This essentially allows us to work together to pull the weed out by its root, rather than just chopping the head off the dandelion.
So, what is attachment theory? Attachment is the process that wires our brains to have healthy or non-healthy relationships. The first years of our lives are formative years in many ways. One of the things that we learn in our childhood is whether or not we are the kinds of people that are deserving of help, attention, and love from others, and whether the people around us are supportive enough to comfort us when we need them. Depending on our relationships with our parents, siblings, and other loved ones, in childhood, we can either be wired to think that people are honest, trustworthy and available, or we can be wired to believe that the world is an unfair place, and that the people around us can’t be trusted, and will probably abandon us. This is the “baggage” we bring into all of our adult relationships. Many of the problems we have in our relationships with our significant others, or with our spouses, can be traced back to this baggage that we pack in our childhoods.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
The International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy was founded by Dr. Susan Johnson and her colleagues nearly 30 years ago, at the University of Ottawa, Ontario. Over the decades, the team has refined their Emotionally Focused Therapy approach and has recorded in research studies a 70% – 75% reduction of distress among the partners and their immediate family members, with approximately 90% of participants showing significant improvements. Dr. Johnson has incorporated attachment theory into her therapy technique, and explains how childhood experiences have an ongoing and major influence on how we act in our present, adult relationships. Along with the dozens of scientific journals Dr. Johnson has authored, she has also published a number of books, such as Hold Me Tight, and Love Sense.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy involves the therapist helping each partner or spouse to identify how their own attachment baggage influences their decisions, thoughts, and actions, and then helping each partner to help the other feel more important, acknowledged, and equal so that the attachment insecurities are not triggered. Emotionally Focused Therapy focuses on the here and now, and so couples will be expected to talk about some of their most recent arguments or disagreements. This will help to identify the negative cycles the partners are stuck in. Once we have identified why the cycles are occurring, we can plan how to stop them from happening in the first place.
Below are some videos prepared by Dr. Susan Johnson that explain the process and benefits of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.
The Gottman Approach to Couples Therapy:
John Gottman and his team of researchers have been answering the difficult questions about marriage and divorce for the past 35 years in their apartment-style Love Lab at the University of Washington, in Seattle. By documenting couples, using cameras, microphones, one way mirrors, and sensors for stress and relaxation, the researchers have discovered how to predict divorce with 91% accuracy. Even better, they have scientifically researched and perfected methods that can bring a marriage back from the brink of failure. To Gottman and his team, a solid relationship is like a solid home. It must be built on a solid foundation. By building love maps, knowing one another, fostering love and admiration, effectively managing conflict, and creating shared meaning in the relationship, the couple can build a solid relationship foundation that can stand up to any hurricane. Of course, there is a huge emphasis on communication because as we all know, healthy communication is the key component of any healthy relationship.
Whether you and your partner have been living with relationship pain for years, are newlyweds, or still preparing for a relationship or marriage, come in and talk. You can’t afford to base the most important relationship of your life on a shaky foundation!
You can see a preview of the Gottman approach to couples therapy here:
Or listen to an audio recording of his New York Times Bestseller The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work here:
Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages
For those of you who appreciate a more spiritual approach to couples counseling, Gary Chapman has researched and published the wildly popular New York Times bestseller, “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Communication to Your Mate.” We all desire to love and be loved, but we each express our desires and affections in different ways because after all, each one of us is a unique human being. Makes so much sense doesn’t it? Ladies, have you ever thought to yourself: “He sends me flowers, when all I want is to talk.” Gentlemen, how many times has this thought ran through your mind: “She gives me a hug and wants to talk, when all I really want to do is decompress from my hard day at work.” Dr. Chapman has discovered that at times, it’s not a lack of love that is causing heartache; it’s the love language that is lacking. In other words, the way we express our love for one another, and the ways in which we desire our partners to show us their affection sometimes are not compatible. Dr. Chapman has determined that we each fall into one of five broad communication patterns: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch. When spouses/partners don’t match up, it’s like they’re speaking completely different languages with one another!
2) FAMILY THERAPY
Family therapy involves having every member of the family together in one room. The idea is that a family is like a mobile hanging over an infant’s crib; when one piece is pushed or pulled, the entire mobile, or family system, moves in sync. When there are family issues, it’s best that the entire family be seen together, because each and every family member plays an important role in the entire family dynamic. Parents, do you have questions about parenting, sibling rivalry, or your children’s academics? Kids, do you get a sore stomach every time you hear your parents arguing, or when you think they might be getting a divorce? When parents are having a difficult time communicating with their kids, or vice-versa, family therapy can often help to sort things out. It’s amazing how all family members can have a chance to voice their opinions, and be heard, when there is a professional in the room to help mediate, and who teaches effective communication and listening strategies. Dr. Carreira uses attachment theory to identify the roles that are being played by each particular family member, and helps to identify negative cycles that the family is involving itself in. With practice and patience, negative cycles, feelings of abandonment, distrust of new parents, sibling rivalry, and even anger and resentment can be eliminated and replaced with more acceptable emotions and behaviours. Family therapy can be effective when parents are separating/going through a divorce, or when remarried parents are bringing their families together, under one roof. Family therapy can also be effective in situations with adopted children, when there is family involvement with the Children’s Aid Society (CAS), when family therapy is ordered by a court, or when children or siblings are residing in foster homes.
3) INDIVIDUAL THERAPY
Individual therapy involves the client and psychologist only, although from time to time, Dr. Carreira may ask that your partner/spouse/friend, etc., attend one session when it becomes relevant. Individual psychotherapy sessions last between 45 and 50 minutes. Dr. Carreira is licensed to provide individual therapy to children, adolescents, and adults in the province of Ontario, and the State of Michigan. Dr. Carreira individually tailors a treatment for your particular problems. No two people are alike, and thus, no two individuals are treated in the same way. Dr. Carreira has a wide repertoire of evidence based therapies and experience to draw from. Some of Dr. Carreira’s most used therapies include: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Attachment Based Psychotherapy, Play Therapy, Biofeedback, Solution Focussed Therapy, Behavioural Activation, Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Positive/Self Psychology, Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), and Emotionally Focussed Therapy. Typical reasons for seeking out individual psychotherapy may involve personal growth, or finding oneself, identity issues, relationship concerns, family problems, anxiety, depression, AD/HD, bipolar disorder, bereavement, PTSD, a motor vehicle accident, issues related to WSIB, problems at work, issues dealing with certain aspects of life, sexual concerns, personality disorders, etc.
4) GROUP THERAPY
Dr. Carreira and his students run different therapy and support groups throughout the year. Please contact Dr. Carreira’s office for a list of groups that are presently being run, or to request a new group.
5) ONLINE THERAPY
From time to time, there are unique situations which prevent a client from coming in to the office for therapy. In these special situations, Dr. Carreira may provide web based psychological services. Please keep in mind that the client is responsible for having his/her own computer and for downloading the special, secure, software that Dr. Carreira uses for providing this service.
6) HOME BASED THERAPY
There are certain situations in which the client cannot attend the office, and in which the client does not have access to a computer. In these situations, Dr. Carreira is available to make a home visit. Please keep in mind that Dr. Carreira charges his regular fee for point to point travel in these situations.
7) PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT
Dr. Carreira is licensed to conduct psychological assessments on children, adolescents, and adults and he regularly conducts a number of psychological assessments including: vocational assessments, fitness for duty assessments, diocesan assessments, personality assessments, psychoeducational assessments for learning disabilities, autism, AD/HD, behavioural disorders, WSIB assessments, Veterans Affairs assessments, motor vehicle accident (MVA) assessments, etc.