Therapy is therapy, right? It’s all about talking to a professional who will help you work through your problems, which is essentially true. The underlying goal of all types of therapy is to help patients overcome their mental or emotional struggles to live happier and healthier lives.
However, therapy services do not treat any situation, mental struggle, or person the same way to do that effectively.
Types of Therapy: What is the Right One For Me?
When it comes to choosing the right types of therapy, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. What works well for one person may not work for another. For this reason, there are so many different types of therapy, each one with its unique benefits and purpose. It is important to explore different types of therapy and find the one that feels appropriate for you.
This article will explore some of the most common types of therapy and what they tend to help with most. This can help you determine the types of therapy worth exploring that seem to best fit your needs and preferences.
Types of Therapy: Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Therapies
These types of therapy focus on discovering unconscious meanings and motivations behind one’s problematic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to change them.
Psychodynamic therapy is a type of psychotherapy that primarily psychological disorders, including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, and addiction. It can also be helpful for individuals who struggle with low self-esteem, maintaining personal relationships, or feel stuck in negative patterns and unconscious thought processes.
Suppose you are interested in exploring your past or repressed experiences and emotions and their influence on your present-day behaviors and relationships. In this case, psychodynamic therapy may be a great fit for you. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the relationship between our current thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and past experiences.
Types of Therapy: Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Therapy
These types of therapy focus on what people think and do.
Behavioral Therapy (BT)
Behavioral therapy, or BT, is an umbrella term for a few types of behavioral therapy. BT aims to help patients change their unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors. This treatment focuses on one’s current problems and teaches patients how to change their learned behaviors.
Anxiety, depression, and panic disorders are a few common issues behavioral therapy helps treat. It can also be helpful for individuals who struggle with anger management or have difficulty communicating effectively.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques are based on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT is one of the most well-known and effective types of therapy for various mental health issues and even self-development.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy aims to help patients change their disturbing thoughts. CBT does this by helping people understand their thought processes to replace them with more positive ones.
CBT is a common treatment for anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders, OCD, and anger management. It can also be helpful for anyone struggling with their self-esteem, mindset, stress responses, and communication skills.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT was developed specifically to treat borderline personality disorder. However, it is helpful for a range of other mental health conditions, such as addiction and substance abuse, eating disorders, and depression. DBT is also considered effective in helping those who engage in suicidal or self-harm behaviors.
DBT focuses on the idea that people have healthy and unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. The goal of DBT is to help patients increase their healthy behaviors while decreasing their unhealthy ones. For this reason, it is also helpful in addressing chronic interpersonal difficulties.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and commitment therapy focuses on helping patients accept their thoughts and feelings rather than changing them. The goal of ACT is to help patients live more meaningful and fulfilling lives by making positive changes in the important areas.
ACT can be helpful for individuals who struggle with anxiety, depression, addiction, and eating disorders. It can also be helpful for individuals who find it difficult to stay motivated or cannot figure out their life purpose.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy is a cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on the individual’s relationship and environment. It operates on the belief that it’s helpful to explore how our relationships impact our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
If you face relationship issues or a major life event, interpersonal psychotherapy may be a good fit.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a type of mindfulness-based therapy. This therapy type is based on the idea that if we can be more aware of our thoughts and feelings, we can better manage them nonjudgmentally. MBCT focuses specifically on helping patients prevent relapse into depression.
MBCT is is a common treatment for anxiety and addiction. It can also be helpful for individuals who are at risk of relapse or have a history of depression.
Types of Therapy: Humanistic Therapy
These types of therapy focus on the idea that humans can grow and change and make rational choices to meet their maximum potential.
Client-Centered Therapy (CCT, Person-Centered Therapy, PCT, or Rogerian Therapy)
Client-centered therapy is a humanistic approach that focuses on the individual’s experiences and feelings. The therapist acts as a facilitator or guide, helping the patient explore their thoughts and emotions without judgment.
CCT strives to create a safe and supportive environment for patients to share whatever is on their minds.
While often helpful with treating anxiety, depression, and relationship issues, CCT can be helpful for individuals who feel like they’ve lost their sense of self or purpose in life.
This therapy focuses on present moment experiences to healing from the past.
Focusing on the idea that present experiences are integral to discovering suppressed feelings, Gestalt therapy helps individuals gain a new sense of self. Therapists who specialize in this approach believe that people constantly seek to create balance and harmony in their lives.
Gestalt therapy helps people learn to accept and trust their feelings through self-awareness to alleviate distress. It can be helpful for individuals who feel like they are in a state of chaos or unhealthy patterns.
Existential Therapy (Part of the Humanistic-Existential Approach)
Existential therapy is a humanistic approach that focuses on the idea that we all have to confront our inner conflict and take responsibility for our decisions.
This approach can also be helpful for individuals who feel like they are in a state of crisis or have difficulty with self-determination or making decisions. Existential therapists believe that it is only by facing our fears and doubts head-on that we can truly live a fulfilling life.
Types of Therapy: Integrative or Holistic
Not all types of therapy focus prominently on the mind or one’s behaviors. These types of therapy may involve blended elements from other approaches to tailor treatment to a patient.
Somatic Therapy or Somatic Experiencing (SE)
Somatic experiencing focuses on the idea that our emotions are stored in our bodies. By releasing these emotions, we can improve our mental health.
This body-centric approach to healing uses dance, meditation, and breathwork to help treat trauma, PTSD, anxiety, and addiction. It can also be helpful for individuals who have difficulty regulating their emotions or experience a lot of stress.
Eclectic or Integrative Therapy
Eclectic or integrative therapy is a type of therapy that involves blending different techniques from other therapeutic approaches to tailor a treatment plan to the individual.
Integrative therapy often helps treat anxiety, depression, stress, low self-esteem, grief, trauma, and substance use disorders. This approach is helpful for people who don’t feel like they fit into any specific type of therapy or want to explore a variety of therapies before finding one that feels right for them.
Mind-body therapy combines techniques from cognitive and behavioral traditions with those from the body-based approaches.
Types of mind-body therapy include mindfulness meditation, hypnotherapy, and guided imagery, to name a few.
Types of Therapy for Groups
Any of the above types of therapy can also be applied in couples, family, or group therapy. These are three broader types of therapy to explore depending on your needs.
Couples therapy helps couples experiencing problems in their relationship or wish to improve it somehow.
Family therapy helps families struggling with communication, anger, or drug abuse.
Group therapy connects people who share similar experiences or problems. While group therapy, like couples and family therapy, involves more than one person, group therapy is for individuals attending therapy for the group experience. Compared to individual therapy, group therapy can be significantly more affordable.
That said, some individuals who attend couples or family therapy may also attend therapy alone to work on their self-identified personal challenges.
Final Thought on Types of Therapy
If you are interested in any of these types of therapy, discuss them with your therapist to see if any could be the right fit for you. If one type of therapy doesn’t seem to be working, don’t be afraid to explore others.
The good news is that you never have to feel stuck with one choice – there are always options. Plus, many therapists will likely have experience with several different types of therapy and therapeutic approaches. It’s important to find one you can commit to and begin living your best life.