The Different Types of Psychotherapy

There are a number of approaches to psychotherapy depending upon various theoretical approaches. Therapeutic treatment depends on three important factors, namely: the current psychological researches, theoretical orientation of the therapist and which approach or technique works best for the current problem and for the client. These factors collectively help in the successful treatment and improved overall mental health of the client.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

The therapist here bases his/her technique on the cognitive behavioral model and the treatment is based on the concepts of thoughts, feelings, physiological reactions and consequent actions and the idea that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a cruel cycle. CBT aims to help you deal with overpowering problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller fractions. The client is shown how to change negative thoughts into positive ones.  Unlike some other talk therapies, CBT addresses current problems, rather than focusing on issues from the past.

If your therapist or physician recommends CBT, you will typically have a session with a therapist once a week. The course of treatment usually lasts 5 to 20 sessions (varies with the needs of the client), based on intervention needed, with each session lasting 30-50 minutes.

During the sessions, you will break down the problems into separate fractions – such as your thoughts, physical feelings and actions. After which you and your therapist will analyze the areas that need work. Your therapist will then be able to help you work out how to change negative thoughts and behaviors, and ask you to practice the techniques in day-to-day life.

Psychoanalysis and Psycho-Dynamic Therapies

The psychoanalytical approach allows the client to discuss their early life experiences in order to connect those experiences with the current problems for a better and holistic understanding, both for the client and for the therapist. Such approaches help in finding out the root cause of the current problem that has been suppressed or repressed by the client earlier in his/her life, i.e. the approach focuses on changing problematic behaviors by finding out their unconscious meanings and motivations. The basis of this approach lies in a close working relationship between the therapist and the client, and   once the root cause has been discovered in the unconscious, they can work together to tackle it accordingly. Though psychoanalysisis usually identified with Sigmund Freud, it has over the years been modified.

Cognitive Analytical Therapy (CAT)

CAT generally uses techniques from both psychodynamic psychotherapy and CBT to discover how your behavior might cause issues, and how you can improve or illuminate them through self-help and experimentation. During initial sessions, the client will be encouraged to discuss events and experiences from their past to help them understand why they might feel, think and behave the way they do in the present.

After the first few sessions, based on what you have discussed, the therapist will guide the client to identify problem patterns that have emerged, and will help them understand how these problems may have occurred. Once the life map emerges, the therapist will help the client figure out techniques to change the problem patterns, which could involve keeping journals and progress charts and the life to help them develop new coping skills.

CAT, like CBT, is a relatively shorter therapy and usually only requires upto 16 sessions (subject to changes based on the needs of each individual).

Humanistic Psychotherapy

In a brief explanation, humanistic interventions encourage the clients to think about themselves more positively and aim to help them improve their lives through self-awareness. The humanistic approach encourages clients to discover and learn about their strengths. There are a several types of humanistic therapies including Person-Centered counseling, Gestalt therapy, Transactional analysis, Transpersonal psychology and Existential therapy. 

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), tries to connect mental illnesses and past events involving relationships that maybe connected to the illness. Events may include bereavements, disputes or relocation.  The therapeutic process equips the client with coping strategies for feelings and interpersonal difficulties to help improve mental health. Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) has been shown to be particularly effective in treating depression, and usually lasts about 12 to 16 sessions.

Family Therapy

The aim of family therapy is to involve members of the client’s family and help them work out problems together. As such, it focuses on family relationships, e.g. parents, siblings and spouses, and encourages everyone involved to work together to fix identified problems.

The therapist tends to encourage group discussions and activities that would allow everyone to participate, promoting a healthy family unit as a path to improving mental health. In some cases, more than one therapist may be involved to make sure everyone and their individual personalities are represented and involved.

Self- Monitoring Approach

Self – monitoring techniques can be shared with the therapist in person or via email. The method helps the client identify triggers, emotions, thoughts and behavioral outcomes. This technique will facilitate the client to process their own concerns and emotions, make inferences, and find patterns objectively. The more the client will practice this technique, the more they will be adept in identifying their automatic thoughts.

Problem-Solving Approach

Affect/emotional modulation would assist the client in making realistic cognitive appraisals. The technique encourages clients to develop problem-solving skills through acquisition of knowledge and by brainstorming on different ways to respond to a single event. The client in this approach is encouraged to engage in active problem-solving rather than self-critical thinking. Through maintaining a healthy therapeutic relationship, the client would be able to engage in the construction of healthy interpersonal boundaries that would e.g. when to say no to people and be assertive.

Eclectic Approach

Using an eclectic approach means that the therapist can combine elements of various psychotherapeutic theories and practices, and customize them to the requirements of the client to bring about the required change. Many psychologists and mental health practitioners today do not tie themselves to any particular school of thought and instead, they blend and tailor the treatment to best suit the client.

Is Psychotherapy even effective?   

 Effectiveness of psychotherapy