I have post-graduate training and significant knowledge in many therapeutic models and strategies specific to intimate relationships, such as

Educated in the Counselling Psychology MA Program at Ateneo de Manila University, I integrate the above with aspects and techniques of person-centered, cognitive behavioral (CBT), psychodynamic, solution-focused (SFBT), narrative, and other therapies as appropriate.

(I also practice clinical hypnotherapy, with a specialized knowledge of chronic pain treatment based on the work of Dr. Mark Jensen and others.)

You can see that I like to have a large toolbox for working with relationships. I draw on this wide variety of therapeutic models as needed, in what’s called an integrative approach.

While therapeutic modalities are fascinating to me, and I enjoy discussing them, that usually won’t help people looking for a therapist. The few people who ask about this may have heard something about one of the above types of therapy, and so it seems like something to ask for. Or they might be seeking someone from what they could consider to be a “good school” — even if nothing more than the name would be familiar. Or someone who has a ton of experience… that should be a good thing, right?

These approaches seem to make sense, but they are examples of what Tversky and Nobel Prize-winner Kahneman called the availability heuristic, a normal human bias towards making a decision by referring to convenient knowledge in memory or by substituting a simpler proxy question, though it may have poor relevance or applicability.

Rather, in your understandable quest to be an informed consumer, you probably have a larger question on your mind. What you really want is to ensure that you are getting the best help available. So what does the science really say about answering that desire?

While there is plenty of evidence that couples therapy is effective in general, the research into differentiating the efficacy of various couples therapy types is quite incomplete. This is largely because not all therapy can be easily tested by being “manualized” or turned into a rigorous program that is consistently deliverable and generally applicable across a wide range of complex clientele and circumstances. Clients, therapists, situations and approaches vary too much, and funding has been lacking.

Actually, the rather confounding fact, sometimes called “the dodo bird verdict“, is that most bona fide types of psychotherapy have been found to have very similar levels of success. There is often a lot of overlap between models anyway. Each type of therapy I employ makes a lot of sense, fits with the “common factors” or general principles of psychotherapy known to work, has its own “fan base” of proponents, and can be very effective when carried out well.

In any case, what should be important for any client is not getting the type of therapy that would be on average “the best”, but getting the sort that is optimal for them. You should not feel any burden to choose which type of therapy is most appropriate for you or your partner, much less to know which type of intervention or model is being used from moment to moment. If we do work together, I deal with all that.

(I myself would note that the blanket endorsement by anyone of any particular type of therapy as superior in all cases is a type of categorical bias that the public should be wary of. While appealing for its simplicity, this claim would ironically be an example of the rigid thinking that clients are often stuck in, a major underlying factor in various psychological problems.)

Yet there are some treatment factors that research shows to be more predictive of success in psychotherapy (while not specifically couples therapy).

One that is coming to light is called “deliberate practice“. It refers to the therapist’s intentional review of performance, seeking of feedback, continuing education, adaptability towards improvement, and so on. In short, it is the opposite of complacently “resting on your laurels” and doing the same old thing over and over. And interestingly, this research jibes with the finding that a therapist’s increasing experience in itself (such as years of practice or number of clients seen) predicts very slightly worsening outcomes.

The other factors psychotherapy research consistently show as the most important are goal consensus/collaboration, empathy, positive regard/affirmation, congruence/genuineness, and similar aspects of the alliance between the therapist and the client. This might be summed up as the extent the client feels that the therapist “gets” them. (Yes, it is very similar to the alliance felt between happily coupled romantic partners.)

In sum, rather than shopping for a type of therapy, I suggest you shop for a therapist who is diligent in pursuit of their own excellence, who you can relate to, and who you can trust to take care of you. A phone conversation is one way to begin to find that out, and I welcome talking with you before you make a booking. Often, even a first session or two may be needed to make sure your therapist is a great companion and guide for you for the journey ahead.