What are the Different Types of Psychotherapy?

With so many types of psychotherapy available, you may be unsure what’s the best option for you. This is why a recommended first step toward starting therapy is to learn about what each method is typically used for and how it may help you.

Here’s an overview...

Psychotherapy: What is it for?

During therapy sessions, you and your therapist work together to identify those aspects you want or need to work on the most.

Psychotherapy, generally, is based on methods like talking, listening, and engaging in other forms of expression. These methods might change, though, depending on which type of psychotherapy you go for. In fact, many therapists combine different strategies, depending on your therapy goals as well as their training and experience.

Which type of therapy you pursue is often a personal choice. There is no “best” type of therapy that applies to everyone. Sometimes, you’ll find that one type of psychotherapy works for one thing, while a completely different one works for something else. Knowing more about different types of psychotherapy could help you explore your options and get a better idea of what to look for.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy that focuses on the link between our thoughts (cognition) and our actions (behavior). It is intended to help people change thought patterns that cause unhealthy, unproductive, or incapacitating behavior. During sessions, you work with your therapist to learn how to recognize persistent negative thoughts or beliefs and respond to them more productively.

Psychoanalytical and Psychodynamic Therapy

This type of therapy emphasizes how certain life events and relationships, both past and present, affect your current feelings, relationships, and choices. Its goal is to help you acknowledge and understand negative feelings and repressed emotions so you can resolve internal psychological conflicts, and improve life experiences, self-esteem, and relationships.

You will explore the reasons why you have taken certain adverse decisions or actions in the past to help you avoid making similar unfavorable choices in the future.

Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy focuses on your unique traits and features instead of trying to identify what’s common between you and others to label these common traits as a condition. The main goal of humanistic therapy is to help you reach your full potential by becoming more self-aware and accepting.

Family and Systemic Psychotherapy

This type of psychotherapy is based on the idea that each of us is part of a wider network or “system”. Our interactions with other people have an impact on how the system works. Sometimes, systems grow and change and can become stuck. The idea is that a problem lies within the group as a whole, rather than with a single person.

They will help to emphasize the strengths, resilience and resources available and how everyone helps contribute to the functioning of the system. The aim is to help everyone understand each other and develop new ways to communicate. This can help people better support each other.

How to choose your psychotherapy type

When deciding what type of therapy to pursue, there are several things to keep in mind:

You don’t have to commit to one approach or therapy from the beginning.

You may want to consider setting up consultations with a few therapists. That way, you’ll be able to talk about what you feel you need and hear how they’d approach it.

It’s advisable to check a therapist’s credentials and type of training they received. It’s also important to understand that you may not have rapport with a specific therapist but you may find it with another one working from the same approach.
Return to our Mental Health section for more information and help