April 27, 2021

What Are the Different Types of Therapy?

If you’re considering therapy, you’ve probably noticed that there are many different types available. Some conditions are better treated by specific approaches while others can treat a variety of issues. 

When you begin your therapy, you’ll be working with a trained mental health professional. What will happen in each appointment will depend on the issues you’re addressing and the preferred methods of your therapist. 

During your appointment, you can expect to be asked to discuss how challenging situations, emotions, and behaviors have impacted your life. 

Below, we’ll outline some of the most common types of therapy to give you a better idea of which one might be best for you:

12 Different Types of Therapy

The purpose of therapy is to help you deal with or manage mental health problems, disorders, and general mental health upkeep. Many people seek out therapy to deal with specific conditions, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but therapy can be a very helpful tool for anyone. Below, we’ll give you an overview of the different types of therapy available.

1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is used by therapists to explore the relationship between a person’s behavior and thoughts, feelings, or both. Using CBT, your therapist will work with you to uncover unhealthy thought patterns. Together, you and your therapist will work on developing more constructive ways of thinking, which can give you a healthier outlook and help you change negative behaviors. CBT has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of disorders, including:

2. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has similarities with CBT but focuses more on regulating emotions, being mindful, and accepting uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. 

Therapists use DBT to help people find a balance between change and acceptance. It helps teach a person new skills, including new ways to cope with a situation and mindful practices. 

An article in The Mental Health Clinician indicates that DBT has reduced medical care and medications by 90%.

DBT is used to treat different conditions, with significant and long-lasting effects, including:

  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorders
  • Mood disorders

3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR) is primarily used by therapists to treat people with PTSD. With this type of therapy, a person recalls a traumatic event while performing specific eye movements. The goal of EMDR is to replace adverse reactions to painful memories with less charged or positive responses. 

It’s important to note that the benefits of EMDR are controversial and that a recent review of studies was unable to identify what part of the treatment is beneficial. One conclusion was that the benefits come from a person’s exposure to the trauma rather than the eye movement. 

4. Exposure Therapy

A form of CBT, exposure therapy is used to treat people with fear and anxiety disorders. During exposure therapy, the therapist works with a person to figure out what triggers their anxiety, then they’ll learn methods to avoid ritualistic behaviors or anxiety after they’re exposed to these triggers. 

In a controlled environment, the therapist will expose the person to these triggers to put these methods into practice.

5. Interpersonal Therapy

Often used to treat people with depression, interpersonal therapy aims to help a person improve their relationships with others. During interpersonal therapy, a person’s social interactions with others are evaluated by the therapist, who can then help them learn ways to understand and interact positively with others. 

6. Mentalization-Based Therapy

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT) is recognized by Psychology and Psychotherapy as a successful treatment for bipolar disorder. It uses a technique called mentalizing to help people with bipolar disorder notice their thoughts and feelings and those of others. 

The goal of MBT is to give a person with bipolar disorder a sense of self and improve their ability to connect with others.

7. Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a less intensive form of psychoanalysis that’s used to help combat a person’s negative patterns of behavior that derive from past experiences. It involves a person speaking freely in response to the therapist’s questions, which helps the therapist identify patterns of thought and behavior. 

Once a person understands how their past experiences have created unhelpful behaviors and feelings, they can work to overcome them.

8. Animal-Assisted Therapy

This type of therapy involves a person spending time with a trained therapy pet, which can help reduce a person’s anxiety, as well as help those with PTSD. Hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities also use animal-assisted therapy to provide comfort and support.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness indicates that therapy dogs are particularly helpful to patients with cancer, heart disease, or mental health disorders.

9. Emotion-Focused Therapy

Therapists use emotion-focused therapy (EFT) to help people build awareness of their emotions so they can resolve and regulate them. Rather than suppressing their emotions, EFT encourages people to work on them. EFT is used to treat:

  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Social anxiety
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Eating disorders
  • Relationship issues

10. Family Therapy

Family therapy involves a therapist working with a family to help an individual in the family resolve specific issues. They work to help a family understand and deal with patterns of negative behavior that may cause issues.

Family therapy can help adolescents with mental health issues and can also be used to help people with:

  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Behavioral problems
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • Medical Issues

11. Group Therapy

Group therapy is used to help people experiencing similar issues to come together as a group to help resolve them. A therapist will lead the discussion and individuals in the group can share their thoughts and experiences, and comment on what others are sharing. 

One disadvantage of group therapy is that you don’t get the same attention that you’d get in a one-on-one therapy session. Group therapy also lacks the confidentiality of one-on-one therapy, which makes it difficult for some people to open up and share their experiences. 

According to the American Group Psychotherapy Association, group therapy can help people with:

  • Interpersonal relationship issues
  • Behavioral, learning, or family issues in children and adolescents
  • Medical issues
  • Aging issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty recovering from a loss
  • Trauma
  • Lifestyle issues
  • Addiction
  • Personality disorders

12. Mindfulness-Based Therapy

Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment. Mindfulness therapy aims to get a person to observe and accept things as they are, without judgment. 

Mindfulness-based therapy has been shown to be helpful for people with:

  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Pain

Which Type of Therapy is Right for Me?

If you’re considering therapy, the most important question you need to ask yourself is what you want to get out of therapy. The answer might be as simple as you’d like to feel better, but you should be able to share that with a potential therapist because it’ll help you both decide whether or not it’s a good fit.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential therapists, schedule some time to have a phone consultation with each. This will allow you to decide which therapist works best for you in terms of availability, cost, how many sessions you’ll need, and if you feel comfortable. While you’re talking with each therapist, keep these questions in mind: 

  • Do you feel like you can talk to this person?
  • Do you feel like you can be honest?
  • Do you feel like this person accepts you?
  • Are they a good listener?
  • Will they customize their approach for you?

It’s important to remember that your therapy should be an open line of communication between you and your therapist. If something doesn’t feel right to you, don’t be afraid to speak up. If you’re not comfortable, there’s no obligation to keep seeing that therapist. While therapy won’t always feel great, it’s important that you feel safe.

Find a Therapy Provider

If you’re feeling the need to find a therapist, there’s a good chance that therapy could be a good choice for you. Make sure to do research so you can find the best therapist for your needs. 

If you or someone you know is seeking mental health treatment, find a Baptist Health behavioral health provider near you.

Useful Resources and Next Steps:

Learn About Behavioral Health Conditions
Contact Us
Find a Baptist Health Provider
Effects of Pets on Mental Health

Learn More.