Therapy Approaches

Dr. Kaffko & Associates offers a collaborative psychotherapy practice, bringing together extensive, specialized clinical experience in a broad spectrum of emotional, behavioral and family mental health problems and disorders.

Our team generally works from an integrative framework. An integrative approach combines components of various effective psychotherapy models such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, Mindfulness Based Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour therapy and Divorce Mediation, so that treatment is optimized and customized to the client’s goals, needs and preferences. We recognize that a particular model of therapy is effective for certain types of issues, but everyone is different in terms of the type of therapy that would most benefit them. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is evidence based, goal specific and action oriented. CBT helps clients learn to identify, question and change the thoughts, attitudes and beliefs related to the emotional and behavioural reactions that cause them difficulty. By monitoring and recording thoughts during upsetting situations, people learn that how they think can contribute to emotional problems such as depression and anxiety. CBT helps to reduce these emotional problems by teaching clients to:

  • identify distortions in their thinking
  • see thoughts as ideas about what is going on, rather than as facts
  • stand back from their thinking to consider situations from different viewpoints

Engaging with CBT can help people reduce stress, cope with complicated relationships, deal with grief, and face many other common life challenges. CBT is based on the theory that problems arise from the meanings people give to events, as well as the events themselves. Unhelpful thoughts can make it difficult for a person to function confidently in different situations. This affects how we behave and ultimately how we feel about ourselves.

Behaviour can be changed using techniques such as self-monitoring, activity scheduling (for depression) and exposure and response prevention (for anxiety).

CBT tends to be short-term, although treatment duration is dependent on many factors such as severity of symptoms and degree of impairment. Treatment can be relatively short-term (2-6 months) for those individuals with straightforward difficulties and longer term for those individuals with more complicated presentations. (ie- over 1 year)

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy refers to a group of approaches to psychotherapy that focuses on uncovering and understanding a person’s thoughts and feelings at a much deeper level than some other forms of therapy. It focuses on bringing one’s awareness to not-yet-fully-conscious ideas and feelings that are contributing to their unresolved symptoms.

In Psychodynamic therapy, we collaborate with the client to explore and uncover deeper thoughts, ideas, and feelings.  We identify themes and patterns in their thoughts and behaviour, that are repeated in how the client relates to self and others.  Family of Origin, is explored in relation to how an individual has learned to cope, strategized survival in their particular family, learned specific functional roles and see themselves and the world at large.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) in its entirety involves individual therapy, group therapy, a DBT therapist consultation team and phone coaching. At our clinic, we only provide the individual therapy with Dialectical Behaviour Therapy skills and techniques. The individual therapy involves teaching various strategies such as:

Mindfulness: Learning to be present and noticing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour as they happen without trying to control them.

Distress tolerance: Developing skills to tolerate and effectively cope during an emotional crisis, especially when there is nothing one can change about a situation, and accepting a situation as it is, rather than how it is perceived it should be.

Interpersonal effectiveness: The ability of a person to ask for what they need when necessary, while still maintaining self-respect and relationships with others.

Emotion regulation: The ability to manage emotions so that they do not control their thoughts and behaviours.

Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy

In Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, each partner’s conflict is explored not simply as problems in communication, but as a product of different attachment and identity needs. Each partner has a certain emotional schema – or blueprint – through which they form and navigate their romantic relationships. If these emotional schemas are shaped in ways that are non-adaptive, or not fully compatible, the partners will experience a lot of distress. The form of distress for each partner depends upon what attachment and emotional needs are not met.
In Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, the therapist guides the partners in identifying their respective attachment patterns and how these interact in a way that leads to a negative interaction cycle that they keep repeating. Greater awareness along with emotional activation and drawing out alternative responses to emotions by the therapist guides each partner to a place of healthy emotional attachment.

Mindfulness Based Therapies

Today there is much research to support the benefits of mindfulness to a person’s physical and psychological health. Mindfulness refers to meditative ideas and practices that involve observing thoughts and feelings and letting go of the need to change or ruminate about things. Mindfulness is a special way of paying attention and has the following qualities: it is done with intent, it is focused on in-the-moment experience, and takes a perspective of non-judgmental curiosity on whatever arises in any given moment.  It is about being in tune with your experience, and cultivating greater awareness and purpose.  Mindfulness is associated with reduced anxiety, depression, stress, rumination, and worry.

Mindfulness-Based Therapies encompass mindfulness philosophies and techniques in their intervention approach.  Mindfulness-Based strategies and ideas can be included in therapies such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Psychodynamic Therapy.

Divorce Mediation

When a partnership breaks down, the habits and behaviors that got you to this point don’t simply go away, so the very problems that broke up your marriage are often on display during divorce proceedings. Rather than falling into old, unhealthy cycles, a mediator introduces new ways to look at the situation by shifting the divorce in a more productive direction.
Once the mediator has an idea of the extent of the conflict, they work with you as a couple using techniques that are proven in the conflict resolution field. By encouraging open communication, the mediator allows your concerns to be heard while helping you find new avenues and common ground in a new space that fosters cooperation.
There are a lot of factors that dictate whether or not children should be involved in divorce mediation, including their age and whether their care is part of the divorce conflict. The goal is to get parents to come together to find the best solution for them and their children. If necessary, the mediator sits down with your child to discuss their fears and concerns to make sure that these voices are heard above the noise.

Our Mediators also facilitate Separation Agreements, co-parenting Agreements, and navigating Pre-nuptial & Co-habitation Agreements.

dr. karen kaffko

and associates

327 Eglinton Ave. East, main floor
Toronto, ON.
M4P 1L7

tel: 416-967-1827
fax: 416-691-7820