Different Therapy Approaches
This article discusses the different types of therapy, their benefits, and what you should consider before deciding on a type.
There are many different types of therapy available. It can be challenging to decide which type is right for you. Three main therapeutic approaches can help categorise the approach a therapist is using.
What are the three main approaches?
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is one of the most popular types of psychotherapy and is the NHS treatment of choice. NICE guidelines recommend CBT due to its quick succession rate and solid evidence base. Many people find CBT effective in treating various mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, addiction, bipolar disorder, and more.
CBT is based on negative thoughts, behaviours, and physiological responses. Vicious cycles of behaviour can trigger mental health issues. Therapists help by teaching people different ways to manage their moods, cope with stress and communicate more effectively with others. The goal is to change self-defeating patterns of thinking or behaviour. CBT is a relatively short-term treatment, with most people seeing improvement within 12 sessions.
However, CBT is not for everyone; people who benefit more from talking about their feelings might prefer counselling or a different therapy approach. If in doubt, speak to a therapist about whether another approach might be more beneficial for you.
The humanistic type of therapy focuses on the whole person instead of mental health issues. It considers a person’s physical health, emotions, relationships, spiritual beliefs, and overall well-being. Humanistic therapists believe that people have an inherent need to grow and self-actualise (reach true potential). There are different humanistic therapies, including person-centred therapy, Gestalt therapy, and existential therapy. Each type focuses on various aspects of the individual’s experience; for example, person-centred therapy emphasises the therapeutic relationship and helps the client explore their feelings and thoughts. Gestalt therapy focuses on the present moment and helps clients become aware of their body sensations and emotions. Existential therapy explores the meaning of life and death, among other topics. Each type of humanistic therapy can be beneficial for different people. It is important to find a therapist who specialises in the style of humanistic therapy that best suits your needs.
Humanistic therapies are particularly good for improving self-awareness. Therapists help clients process difficult feelings and enable them to recognise any barriers that are sabotaging true potential. Typically humanistic therapy requires at least 16 sessions. Humanistic therapy is tailored to the individual, so what might work for one person may not work for another. If you’re considering humanistic therapy, talk to your therapist about how many sessions they think would be appropriate for you. Remember, the goal of humanistic therapy is self-discovery and growth. As the client you will ultimately decide when you feel like you’ve reached these.
This form of psychotherapy focuses on the unconscious processes and conflicts that drive behaviour. The aim is to help clients understand their thoughts and feelings and how this impacts their relationships and daily lives. Psychodynamic therapy can help with anxiety, depression, or other emotional difficulties. It may also help resolve longstanding problems or issues that have been difficult to address in other ways.
The goal of psychodynamic therapy is to help clients become more aware of their inner experiences, so they can make choices that are healthier and more satisfying. Treatment typically lasts for several months to years, depending on the person’s needs. During sessions, therapists will often ask questions and encourage patients to talk about whatever is going on. Moreover, there is another important aspect of delivery style to consider when choosing a therapist. Although there are different types of therapy, therapists also use different delivery approaches.
What are the different approaches I might hear about?
Some therapists may specialise in a standalone approach such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The clue here would be to notice the title the therapist goes by. For example, a therapist advertising themselves as a ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapist’is likely to only use this. Other therapists may be trained in a range of techniques or more than one approach (e.g. Humanistic, CBT, Psychodynamic) and flexibly combine or tailor the approach to meet individual needs and requirements. Therapists who understand more than one theory are referred to as Integrative or Eclectic therapists or counsellors.
An eclectic therapist specialises in one or two techniques. An integrative therapist has a more holistic approach and utilises a range of theories, tools and techniques.
If you consider accessing therapy through the NHS, the treatment approach is primarily CBT. This is due to its quicker succession rate. However, more therapy choices are available, partculary if you seek private therapy and are able to pay for it yourself.
Hopefully, this post will have provided some insight into types of therapy and the different approaches therapists use. However, If you are still unsure which therapist would be best for you, consider looking on some reputable directory websites. The Counselling Directory and Psychology Today are two very reputable sites that list certified, registered therapists. Many offer a free consultation or chat, so you can see if they might be a good match for you.