Different Types of Therapy – Various Therapeutic Approaches

types of therapy

Often, when people think of therapy, they have quite a narrow-minded view of the topic. The first thing that comes to mind is usually a doctor with a notepad while the patient lies on a couch. However, there are many different types of therapy.

Some therapists are more focused on diving into your childhood, while others are more concerned with behavioral patterns.

The type of therapist you go to will likely depend on what you need. If you’re struggling with something like agoraphobia, you’ll probably get referred to a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (CBT). Whereas if you deal with major bouts of anxiety, you’ll probably work on it with a psychodynamic therapist.

But this will all depend on you and the support system you have in place. Keep in mind that therapy is a journey. And it takes work, commitment, and vulnerability for it to be successful.

How to Find the Right Type of Therapy?

different types of therapeutic approaches

Therapy has been a huge part of my anxiety journey. It’s, without a doubt, the thing that has helped me the most. I’ve tried various types of therapy, and they’ve all taught me something, but I definitely resonated with some more than others.

The only way you’re going to figure out which types of therapists really work for you is by trying them all. But that’s quite expensive, and telling your whole life story to a stranger once is hard enough. Now you’ve got to tell it to multiple people? No thanks.

So, do some research. Figure out what each type of therapy entails, and then start looking for therapists whose style you resonate with.

Unfortunately, you’re gonna have to tell your life story to a couple of different people. But it gets easier the more you do it. Or you just get better at summing up all the traumatic experiences that transformed you into the wonderful human that you are.

What are the Different Types of Therapy

There are so many different types of psychotherapy that it would take a while to name them all. So, I’m going to sum up the ones I’m most familiar with and then include some of the other options in another section down below.

Psychodynamic Therapy

psychodynamic therapy

The majority of my therapy journey has been through a psychodynamic approach. I was lucky enough to find a therapist I really resonated with back in 2019, and I’ve been seeing her once a week ever since. She’s helped me grow and truly come into my own.

Psychodynamic Therapy is rooted in Freudian principles and explores unconscious thoughts and feelings to try to understand and alleviate emotional suffering. It’s all about gaining a deeper understanding of your life.

Psychodynamic therapy often explores how early childhood experiences and relationships with caregivers have shaped an individual’s personality and coping mechanisms.

A lot of what we do is unconscious, and through this type of psychotherapy, you become more aware of these things and why you do them.

This form of therapy doesn’t really have a time limit, you can keep doing it as long as you need.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

cognitive behavioral therapy

CBT is a time-limited therapy that focuses on the present moment. So you likely won’t dive into your childhood. Instead, it’s a form of Behavioral Therapy.

It’s more focussed on the relationship between our situation, mindset, thoughts, behavior, emotions, and physical reactions.

This evidence-based therapy type trains you to automatically question whether or not your thoughts are facts. As a result, your reaction time slows, and you feel more emotionally stable.

CBT is ideal for people who want a therapy that works towards solutions, with clear goals and practical techniques. It can also include things like exposure therapy.

It’s ideal if you’re looking for a practical way to overcome specific fears and sort your life out. For example, I used CBT methods when I was suffering from Agoraphobia. I used methods from the book Untangle Your Anxiety (this book actually changed my life).

I’ve never actually been to a Cognitive Behavioral therapist because the idea of having someone else in control of my exposure terrifies me. But this method has had great success.

Mindfulness-Based Therapies

mindfulness based therapy

Mindfulness is an incredible tool if you’re looking to master your anxiety. These therapies are focused on teaching you to become the observer of your feelings and thoughts.

With a Mindfulness-Based therapist, you’ll likely integrate mindfulness meditation and awareness techniques to become more present, helping you to better manage your thoughts and emotions.

Examples of Mindfulness-Based Therapies are:

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBS): Structured program that cultivates mindfulness through meditation and yoga, empowering individuals to manage stress and enhance overall well-being.
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): Integrates mindfulness practices with cognitive therapy techniques. It helps people with recurrent depression develop greater awareness and prevent relapse by changing their relationship to negative thought patterns.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Encourages people to embrace their thoughts and feelings without judgment, fostering psychological flexibility and guiding them to commit to values-based actions for a more meaningful life.
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT): Originally developed for people with borderline personality disorder, DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with acceptance strategies to manage intense emotions.

I have done Dialectical Behavioural Therapy and found it to be hugely beneficial. It taught me a lot about myself and pushed me out of my comfort zone. It was also one of the first times I felt less alone in my anxiety and depression.

I’ve also done some ACT as well. I had a physiotherapist who was really passionate about this type of therapy, and she taught me quite a few of the techniques when I was battling with chronic pain. For example, she introduced me to the FEAR acronym.

Yoga has also taught me how to practice mindfulness in my daily life (you can learn more about this with my post on Informal Mindfulness Practice).

Humanistic Therapies

humanistic therapy types

I haven’t actually done any humanistic therapy along my anxiety journey, but I did do my training as a counselor from the humanistic perspective.

In essence, Humanistic therapies use a range of theories and practices to help you understand and enhance your mental wellbeing. This approach suits people interested in exploring their lives and looking at their issues from a wide range of angles.

These ​​psychotherapists are largely focused on emphasizing the individual’s inherent drive toward self-actualization. They place a strong emphasis on personal growth and self-discovery.

Variations of humanistic types of therapy include:

  • Integrative Psychotherapy: Combines elements from various therapeutic approaches, tailoring the treatment to suit the patient’s unique needs. It draws on diverse theoretical perspectives for a comprehensive and personalized healing process.
  • Person-Centered Counseling: Emphasizes creating a supportive and empathetic therapeutic relationship where clients can explore their feelings and experiences, fostering self-discovery and personal growth.
  • Gestalt Therapy: Focuses on the present moment and the integration of thoughts, feelings, and actions. It uses experiential techniques to enhance self-awareness and promote a holistic understanding of one’s psychological processes.
  • Existential Therapy: Explores the patient’s search for meaning and purpose in life. It highlights personal responsibility and the freedom to make choices, ultimately guiding clients to confront and navigate the existential challenges inherent in human existence.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

interpersonal therapy

IPT mainly focuses on you and your relationships with others. It is based on the idea that poor mental well-being is rooted within our interpersonal relationships. It’s another time-limited therapy and usually goes on for about 12-16 sessions.

This form of therapy concentrates on improving interpersonal relationships and addressing communication patterns to alleviate symptoms.

This is a therapeutic approach that I haven’t yet tried, but it has been extensively researched and has been shown to help in treating depression. It has also been adapted for various other conditions, such as anxiety, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Other Forms of Therapy Worth Exploring

forms of therapy

As I mentioned, there are a lot of different therapeutic approaches out there. Here are a few more types of therapy that might resonate with you.

  • Art Therapy: Incorporates creative expression as a means of self-discovery and emotional healing. I’ve done a couple of art therapy courses, and it’s amazing what happens in the subconscious mind.
  • Play Therapy: Play is incredibly important for both kids and adults. But this type of therapy is primarily used with children. The approach uses play activities to help them express and communicate their feelings. When I was younger, I went to an educational psychologist and had no idea that the play was actually part of the therapy process.
  • Narrative Therapy: Focuses on the stories individuals tell about their lives and helps them reframe and reconstruct these narratives in a more positive way.
  • Trauma-Focused Therapy: Various approaches, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) or Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), are specifically designed to address trauma-related issues. When I was really suffering from PTSD, I was considering EMDR but never actually booked an appointment.

What Type of Therapist Do I Need?

The kind of therapist you need depends on your individual situation and your treatment needs. If one of the types of therapy on this list resonates with you, do some research to find out more about it. Then, you can search for a therapist (I’ll leave some links down below).

There are also plenty of other resources you can turn to. You could also ask for a referral from your doctor or psychiatrist or make use of mental health resources.

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