What sets Aspire Counseling apart?
Have you ever been to a therapist who offers some research supported mental health treatment that you’ve been told will solve all of your problems? Maybe you are trying to overcome a traumatic experience and went to someone for EMDR or you have a history of attempting suicide and went to someone trained in DBT. You’re pretty sure the therapist followed that treatment model, but you just felt like you didn’t connect well with them. And you didn’t get better.
Or maybe your experience was the opposite. You have a kind therapist who “got” you. You could tell them anything. You just didn’t get better. You left feeling a little better, because you were heard and had a great connection. But a year and a half in you realized you were struggling with the same problem as before.
What if you could have both the “right” intervention AND the “right” therapist? That is what sets Aspire Counseling apart. We find that balance, do what works, and offer effective treatment. Our caring therapists are trained in some of the most effective treatments. In fact, my clients have been known to tease me about how much I love research. But we also recognize that YOU are the most important factor in therapy. For this reason, your needs, wants and values come above all else! Need to skip a week because of a religious holiday? No problem. Do you feel strongly that you can’t possibly sit in a DBT skills group yet? We may be able to do your skills training 1:1. Are you bored by meditation? I hear ya, we’ll make it fun and even incorporate some technology.
We call this balance between YOU, your therapist and research Evidence Based Practice
Why is Evidence Based Practice important in Counseling?
If you ask me what sets Aspire Counseling apart from other counseling clinics, my answer will be our passion for using evidence based practice. I love our cozy lobby. The positive and encouraging culture among our team members makes work fun. However, the most important thing is that our clients get better. The real reason we are here, and the reason I founded Aspire Counseling is to help clients find healing faster. It is our use of Evidence Based Practice that sets us apart. Evidence Based Practice is the vehicle that helps us transport our clients from fear, depression and hopelessness to emotional freedom.
We know that our clients find healing and feel BETTER if we offer compassionate counseling services that balance these three things (your needs/wants/values, your therapist’s expertise & research supported treatments). We make this the hallmark of our practice because it’s effective.
The Definition of Evidence Based Practice
According to an APA task force, “Evidence-based practice in psychology (EBP) is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient characteristics, culture, and preferences.” The Institute of Medicine (2001; as adapted from Sackett, Straus, Richardson, Rosenberg, & Haynes, 2000) defines EBP as,“The integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values” (p. 147).
These are two of many definitions of Evidence Based Practice I’ve read over the years. While each definition varies slightly in it’s wording, there are three basic components that consistently show up in definitions of Evidence Based Practice: Using research, skilled clinicians and an emphasis on YOUR needs as a client.
Let’s take a little closer look at each of these three parts of the definition….
Best Available Research
My mom does intervention research at the University of Missouri, so I grew up hearing about all of the ways her team was finding through research hospice agencies could better support patients and caregivers. This laid the foundation for me to pay attention to mental health research throughout my own career.
At Aspire Counseling, each therapist has received significant training in at least two well researched types of treatment. Some of these treatments work for a variety of mental health issues such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy or Cognitive Behavior Therapy. On the other hand, some of our therapists use therapy interventions that are effective for a specific type of mental health issue such as EMDR or Prolonged Exposure for trauma or Exposure and Response Prevention for Anxiety.
By staying on top of the latest mental health research and using interventions that have been proven effective through rigorous research, we are giving you the best possible chance of healing quickly. I like to say that by using research supported interventions, I’m standing on the shoulder of giants instead of reinventing the wheel.
Ben was a counseling intern when I first met him. He reached out to my DBT Consultation Team, because he was trying to learn how to use DBT. Ben spent the next few months helping me lead our multi family group skills training group. I was so impressed that I asked him to join Aspire Counseling when he graduated. Why? Ben may not have had much counseling specific experience, but I’m telling you, he was good. As Ben gained confidence, I saw the skillful way he held the dialectic of fully accepting our clients where they were and pushing for change. Ben’s laugh put everyone at ease and his genuine interest in people helps him build relationships. Ben demonstrated his ability to hold people accountable for not doing homework or how to Kindly encourage you to use a skill.
To me, this is what clinical expertise means. I didn’t invite Ben to join Aspire because he had years of counseling experience. I didn’t even bring him on because he was in the process of learning two research supported counseling interventions (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy along with Dialectical Behavior Therapy). It was Ben’s unique personality, natural instincts and strong desire to help people that made me confident in his ability to do outstanding counseling with our clients.
The number one thing that predicts if someone will “get better” in counseling is the strength of the therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist. It is important to have a caring therapist who you trust. Each counselor is unique and will fit with a different type of client. It is very purposeful that all of the Aspire Counseling therapists have very different personalities, work histories, and personal strengths. We each bring something different to the table. The type of clinical expertise you need in a counselor depends on your personality, life stage and what is bringing you to the therapy office.
The Preferences, Values & Needs of the Client
The most important part of the Evidence Based Practice triad is YOU. Clients often look to the therapist as the “expert,” but I believe you know yourself the best. You should always feel like an equal partner in your mental health treatment and be active in making decisions about your care.
As a mental health professional, I may recommend a specific treatment intervention based on the research I’ve read and trainings I’ve attended. I may have a lot of experiencing using this type of treatment and feel confident it will help you. Yet, if you tell me that you don’t want to do that type of treatment, we won’t do it. I will probably ask about your reasons or tell you a little more about why I made the recommendation, but ultimately I trust your ability to make your own Wise Mind decision.
Throughout your treatment, we will also work on clarifying your values. Your therapist will ask about your beliefs, culture and what your day to day life is like. Why? Because we want to make treatment work for you. You are an individual, so your treatment should also be individual. We tailor your counseling sessions to meet your specific needs.
Bringing It All Together: Evidence Based Practice
The most effective mental health treatment is provided by skilled therapists, using well researched treatment modalities that are adapted to meet your unique needs.
If you live in the Mid Missouri area and are looking for effective, caring counseling (i.e. evidence based counseling services!) for yourself or a loved one, please call us at 573-328-2288 or e-mail us today. Our intake coordinator or director will take the time to match you with the right therapist. We are passionate about providing Evidence Based Practice and believe in the power of counseling. Healing starts here, so call today!
All of the Jessica Tappana LCSW, is the founder and director of Aspire Counseling in Columbia, MO. Jessica is passionate about Evidence Based Practice. She uses several research supported treatments herself and has brought on other therapists trained in effective treatments. Jessica regularly leads a 3 hour training for the National Association of Social Workers teaching others about the importance of Evidence Based Practice.