The EMPWR Program focuses on managing challenges and building key skills that support resilience. Resilience describes a person’s ability to overcome stressors and handle tough situations.
The EMPWR Program offers time-limited mental health services based on up-to-date research and literature to ensure the most effective clinical interventions are being delivered to patients. EMPWR is an academic teaching clinic for UCLA Psychiatry and Psychology advanced clinical trainees.
Therapeutic interventions offered are variations of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and include individual therapy, group therapy, and family interventions. Psychotherapy modalities include trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), Families OverComing Under Stress (FOCUS), CBT for anxiety and depression, resilience skills training, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills training.
Psychiatric evaluations and integrated medication management services are also available for UCLA Health patients. EMPWR clinicians are also well-versed in valuations for letters of readiness.
EMPWR’s services are rooted in CBT and include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychological treatment that clinical studies repeatedly show to be effective for treating a wide range of mental health concerns, including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and post-traumatic stress. Many studies suggest that CBT is as effective, or more effective, than other psychological treatments or psychiatric medications. CBT treatment is guided by the assumption that thoughts, feelings, and actions are interconnected and highly dependent upon one another.
The way a situation is perceived, and the thoughts connected to it, can strongly influence the emotional reaction. Within this model, mental health difficulties (e.g., anxiety, depression) and distress are believed to be due, in part, to engaging in harmful ways of thinking and unhelpful patterns of behaving. CBT treatment involves learning how to recognize and change thinking patterns, gain more helpful and adaptive perspectives, as well as efforts to change behavioral patterns.
The EMPWR Program offers individual psychotherapies to address symptoms related to trauma and stress, including trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety and depression, and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) skills training for improving emotion regulation. Examples of common issues addressed in individual therapy include support around sexual orientation and/or gender identity development, recovery from trauma, bullying, and/or discrimination, and exploration of social and/or medical transitions.
Psychotherapies are time-limited, targetted treatments customized to the individual client's needs. We unfortunately cannot provide long-term psychotherapy.
Teen Resilience Group
The EMPWR Program offers an innovative LGBTQ+ Teen Resilience Group designed for teens 12 to 17 years old who identify as LGBTQ+. Each group includes three to eight teens matched by age and/or similar concerns.
Informed by cognitive behavioral therapy, the group teaches practical skills to improve day-to-day functioning. Sessions are led by professional mental health providers and are designed to be educational, interactive, and social. Skills are practiced between sessions to bolster learning.
Over eight sessions, teens learn how to:
- Increase enjoyment and self-care
- Build strong and supportive relationships
- Improve communication with family and trusted supports
- Solve common challenges
- Increase awareness of emotional states and manage difficult feelings
- Identify personal values and set goals
Parent/Caregiver Resilience Group
The EMPWR Parent/Caregiver Resilience Group is designed to improve parental support of adolescents who are LGBTQ+ or exploring gender and/or sexual identities. Over 8 sessions, parents learn about typical parental reactions, typical gender and sexual identity exploration and development, tangible skills for how to support adolescents (even if parents do not understand or agree), effective communication skills around issues of sexuality and gender, and ways to advocate for their children. Each session has an at-home component that allows parents to practice skills discussed in the group.
The EMPWR Program offers support for families to improve parent-youth communication, foster more supportive home environments, increase their understanding of stress, and help youth build coping strategies and resilience. Specific interventions available include:
- Youth and parent/caregiver skills groups, which teach practical skills to manage stress and improve communication
- A family-based intervention called Families OverComing Under Stress (FOCUS), a short-term intervention (about 6-8 sessions) that targets family communication around emotions and challenging experiences, family strengths, and problem solving
- Consultations for parents and caregivers looking for LGBTQ+ learning resources and support groups
- Family-Focused Therapy for families of transgender and gender diverse youth (FFT-TGD), a new family therapy that is being developed and studied by EMPWR team members (PI: Ramos). Participants receive 12 sessions of family therapy over 4 months at no coast. For more information about the study, please click here to download the flyer and/or contact [email protected] (UCLA IRB#23-000726).
Integrated psychiatric evaluation and medication management services are available to UCLA Health patients. Evaluations are typically conducted by advanced trainees under the supervision of board-certified psychiatrists on clinical faculty. Psychiatrists specialize in trauma and stress, as well as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).