Questions About Therapy Part 1: What is a Therapeutic Technique?

By: Jennifer Roberts, CSW, Therapist at Compass Counseling

“Therapeutic Techniques”  are skills used by therapists to work with a client to meet their agreed upon goals. These “techniques” vary from therapist to therapist based upon their area of expertise and training.  Your therapist is trained to know how to use many techniques and may use some or a variety of these in your counseling appointment. These techniques listed are common in therapy, here is some basic information so you can understand more about them.


Psychoeducation is a term used when a therapist or other mental health professional provides you with information about anything “psychological.”  This can include things like the changes that occur during childhood development, features of a panic attack or what to expect at different points of recovery from addiction.  Psychoeducation is meant to give additional information to you so you may have a better understanding of what you or a loved one is experiencing. It can also help you know what to expect in the future and what may be helpful in getting relief and setting goals for yourself.   


CBT is short for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the goal of CBT is to help the client change their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. The idea behind CBT is that if you can change the way you think about things it will change your emotional and behavior response to that thought. Often you will work with your therapist on challenging negative thoughts and discovering a core belief that may need to be addressed. CBT helps us identify “automatic negative thoughts” which are thoughts we often incorrectly assume about ourselves or others. These thoughts often go unnoticed until they create an emotional reaction that then impacts our behavior.    



Mindfulness based approaches may be looked at as more of an umbrella term popular for a variety of techniques such as relaxation and deep breathing techniques, guided imagery and positive visualization, and meditation.  Another way to look at Mindfulness is to think about our 5 senses and identifying them in a moment of extreme emotion. These grounding type techniques are helpful if you find your thoughts getting fixed on something (ruminative thoughts) or if you are having a hard time focusing.  Ruminative thought is just a fancy way of saying getting fixated on a negative thought and not being able to stop the thought. Mindfulness techniques work to bring our attention to what is happening here and now. These techniques are used to help make you feel grounded and actively engaged in the present “here and now”. Mindfulness techniques can be used to treat anxiety, issues with sleep, self confidence issues, and many more.

To learn more about mindfulness check out this post on Mindfulness


EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a therapy used to help a wide scope of mental health concerns including people who have experienced trauma and PTSD. EMDR is a technique which requires specialty training to provide. This form of therapy helps clients reprocess traumatic memories and helps the brain store the memories in a more appropriate way that doesn’t cause panic or anxiety. Most people report making more progress in a more timely manner than in traditional methods of talk therapy.

To learn more about EMDR check out our post from earlier this year

Also check out the next two blog posts in this series Questions About Therapy Part 2: What are the Letters Behind My Therapists Name?

and Questions About Therapy Part 3: What is the Process to Start Marriage Counseling & How Much is it?

We hope these descriptions are helpful when learning more about how to take care of your mental health. After all, we all all have mental health! Let us help you on your path to change! If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists at Compass Counseling please call 270-777-4490 in Paducah or 270-215-4000 in Owensboro. We offer in person counseling at both of our locations as well as online therapy anywhere in Kentucky.