Michael R. Bridges, Ph.D. is a former Associate Professor in Clinical Psychology at Temple University and a Licensed Psychologist in the State of Pennsylvania.
25 Years of Experience in Psychotherapy
Dr. Bridges has 25 years of experience in providing psychotherapy, assessment, psychotherapy research, teaching, supervision, and continuing education. For six years, he worked as a clinical and forensic psychologist for the U.S. Department of justice and contributed to the scientific literature on the assessment and treatment of various types of offenders.
He then became an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and the Director of the in-patient Dialectical Behavior Therapy Unit at John Umstead State Hospital. He moved to Philadelphia in 2001 to become an Associate Professor and Director of the Psychological Services Center at Temple University. He received international attention for his research on the physiological and emotional processes involved in healing attachment injuries. Because of the importance of this research he was asked to contribute an article, “Activating the Corrective Emotional Experience” for a special issue of The Journal of Clinical Psychology on emotion regulation in psychotherapy.
In 2006 he joined the Council for Relationships and Jefferson University to help develop their graduate program in Couples and Family Therapy.
Full-time Practice of Clinical Psychology Since 2012
Since 2012, Dr. Bridges has been involved in the full-time practice of clinical psychology with an emphasis on individual therapy and couples therapy for issues related to depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, infidelity, and attachment injuries related to abuse or family of origin issues. Recently, he was also a consultant, supervisor and therapist on a multisite research project that examined the impact of cognitive-behavioral and emotion focused psychotherapies on depression with woman suffering from Ovarian Cancer and men who were recovering from Prostate Cancer.
Dr. Bridges is sought out as a guest lecturer in graduate programs and to provide continuing education to professional organizations of therapists.
Individual, Couples, and Group Psychotherapy
Dr. Bridges’ psychotherapy specialties include depression, trauma and anxiety, job stress and career transition. He has experience working with individuals from diverse backgrounds but currently works with many physicians, health-care professionals, attorneys, business professionals, academics and other therapists who function in demanding work environments.
He is trained in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) which is one of the most empirically informed treatments for couples who are struggling with negative cycles related to infidelity, or early attachment injuries and trauma related to their family of origin. Dr. Bridges also has an interest and experience in working with college students and those involved in the creative-arts.
Many clients who had been in psychotherapy before but found themselves talking about the same issues over and over with no real change, have found Dr. Bridges’ skill at helping them access the core emotions in sessions that their problems stem from very helpful.
An Attachment and Emotion-Focused Approach to Therapy
The foundation of Dr. Bridges’ work with individuals, couples, and groups is relational and empathetic and based on the importance of early and later attachments in our life and the basic human emotions that form the basis of these relationships. Dr. Bridges’ warmth, sensitivity, humor and intelligence help most clients experience a sense of respect and safety in just a few sessions so that deeper issues can start to be addressed.
Strategies and Solutions Used in Psychotherapy
Dr. Bridges recognizes that people come to therapy looking for new information and resources to help them, especially when struggling to create new patterns in their relationships or working to overcome experiences of depression, anxiety and trauma. As a former professor in top graduate programs in clinical psychology and marriage and family therapy, and as a psychotherapy researcher and practioner, Dr. Bridges has extensive knowledge and training in cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, somatic and emotional focused approaches.
The following are the approaches that have most influenced his practice.
Dialectical-Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dr. Bridges was one of the first psychologists to use DBT with incarcerated, personality-disordered offenders in the early 1990s. When he became an assistant professor of clinical psychology at UNC-Chapel Hill, he was appointed director of the inpatient DBT unit at John Umstead Hospital.
While Dr. Bridges’ approach is more experimental than cognitive, he uses principles from DBT, particularly mindfulness to help clients learn to identify how their thoughts can contribute to or help lessen their experiences of emotional pain—and to learn various methods for slowing down their mind so that they can more fully experience the present moment.
Accelerated experiential-dynamic psychotherapy (AEDP)
Accelerated experiential-dynamic psychotherapy (AEDP) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on healing-oriented techniques and aims to achieve a transformation in client behavior by exploring the in-depth processing of difficult emotional and relational experiences. This innovative method was developed by Dr. Diana Fosha and has roots in and resonances with many disciplines, amongst them attachment theory, affective neuroscience, and body-focused approaches.
Dr. Bridges was among the first psychologists that realized the important contributions of AEDP and sought out training and supervision with Dr. Fosha. Dr. Fosha was also impressed with Dr. Bridges’ ability to use somatic approaches in accessing core affects and has invited him to present to her graduate classes and at AEDP trainings.Learn more about AEDP
Internal Family Systems (IFS)
Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a therapy approach developed by Dr. Richard Schwartz, that recognizes and respects the complexity of each person’s inner world. Inner conflict between parts (often recognized as having competing beliefs and desires) is often at the root of anxiety, depression, indecisiveness, and dissatisfaction. By listening deeply to all parts of self, we can have greater ease in our lives, greater compassion for ourselves, and less distress and reactivity. When we begin to understand our inner conflicts through the lens of IFS and parts, we develop an ability to see our struggles more clearly and with greater compassion. In couples therapy, this lens leads to deeper understanding about habitual reactions and patterns and, ultimately, greater intimacy and connection.
Dr. Bridges has spent the last two years in intensive study and training in IFS, including workshops and trainings with Dr. Richard Schwartz. In 2017, he began a year-long Level 1 IFS training in Philadelphia.Learn more about IFS
Emotion Focused Therapy for Individuals and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) is a structured approach to couples counseling formulated in the 1980’s by Dr. Susan Johnson and Dr. Leslie Greenberg that integrated the emerging science on adult attachment and the importance of different types of emotional expression that bring couples closer or tear them apart.
A substantial body of research outlining the effectiveness of EFT now exists. Research studies find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements.
The founders of this type of therapy, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Greenberg, eventually went their separate ways, with Dr. Johnson continuing to refine the EFT approach to couples counseling and Dr. Greenberg focusing more on EFT approaches in individual therapy.
Dr. Bridges considers himself fortunate to have experienced advanced training in EFT couples therapy from Dr. Johnson and her colleagues as well as advanced training and supervision from Dr. Greenberg in individual EFT. Dr. Greenberg also agreed to serve as a consultant and mentor for Dr. Bridges’ psychotherapy research at Temple University and Dr., Greenberg and Dr. Bridges have presented together at national and international conferences.