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In graduate school, I was asked to choose my theoretical approach. We could choose only one approach; otherwise I probably would have chosen “eclectic.” The free spirit in me chose Carl Roger’s Person-Centered Theory. In practice, using this approach with mentally ill and substance abusing patients, I found that this theory was not effective alone. I found that being empathetic, warm, authentic, and to have unconditional positive regard are all wonderful for building rapport with a patient, but did not elicit change. Rogers suggests that all patients are on the path to self-actualization. However, if your life is unmanageable, this would be far from a person’s desire and ability. Who cares about self-actualizing when you hate yourself? However, I do have hope that we can prepare people for the path towards self-actualization.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a goal-directed approach that focuses on changing maladaptive behaviors and thoughts to behaviors and thoughts that reflect reality (free from distortions) which promote optimal psychological functioning. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) adds dialectics and mindfulness to CBT. Intuitively, I used dialectics prior to beginning study of the theory. Patients with poor psychological functioning needed to be validated, but simultaneously they needed change. The patient can be accepted as a worthy human being at the same time his or her maladaptive behaviors are challenged and replaced with healthy coping skills. Finally, mindfulness gives patients the ability to pay attention to his or her thoughts and emotions in a non-judgmental manner and make wise decisions accordingly.

A Mission for Michael, Inc. incorporates evidenced-based interventions including CBT and DBT. Our Clinical Staff bring a bit of everything to the mix to create a treatment environment utilizing evidenced-based interventions, as well as the humanistic approaches from a variety of theories. This effective, eclectic approach enables our Clinical Staff to treat each patient individually and to not use a “one-fits-all” approach. As a facility with a true specialty for co-occurring disorders, emphasis is placed on relapse prevention and mental stability, as well as creating meaning in life, a time for laughter and developing positive relationships. I am passionate about my work and extremely happy to be a part of A Mission for Michael, Inc.

— Tara L. Myers, MS