Types of Therapy

The kind of psychotherapy a person receives depends on his or her own unique needs. Often times a therapist will use a blended approach, sampling techniques from several different types of psychotherapy.
Your therapists will work with you (or your family) to develop the best treatment plan for your particular needs.

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is also referred to as talk therapy, psycho-social therapy, counseling, or, simply, therapy. Psychotherapy is the primary method for treating mental health problems by talking with a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor or other mental health provider. It’s goal is the help them understand their illness and teach strategies and tools that manage unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

For many, psychotherapy alone may be sufficient treatment, depending on their mental illness and its severity. Other times, psychotherapy is combined with medication. Your therapists will work with you (or your family) to develop the best treatment plan for your particular needs.

The different types of psychotherapy

Many approaches to psychotherapy exist. There is no single approach that works for everyone. Often times a therapist will use a blended approach, sampling techniques from several different types of psychotherapy. Other times, a single focused type of psychotherapy may be the best treatment approach. The kind of psychotherapy a person receives depends on his or her own unique needs.

Below is a short list of some of the more common types of psychotherapy A-Z.

This list is not comprehensive and many of these therapies are constantly evolving. Some therapy techniques have been scientifically tested on a large scale basis; while others are newer and often combined with more established psychotherapies.

Accelerated Experiential-Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)

Accelerated Experiential-Dynamic Psychotherapy is aimed at helping individuals develop the skills needed to properly address their emotional issues and traumas, so they don’t resort to unhealthy defense mechanisms. The ultimate goal of AEDP is to teach individuals “affirming” techniques aka healthier emotional responses and behaviors. This form of therapy can help individuals cope with mood-based, adjustment, personal, and psychological issues.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a blend of two types of therapy: cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. The premise behind cognitive therapy is to focus on a person’s thoughts and beliefs, and how they influence a person’s mood and actions. The goal is to bring awareness to a person’s particular type of thinking and guide it to be more adaptive and healthy. Alternatively, behavioral therapy focuses on behavior. By bringing awareness to a person’s unhealthy behaviors, actions, or habits behavioral therapy can help to change behavior patterns.

Cognitive-Behavioral Hypnotherapy

Cognitive-behavioral hypnotherapy is an integrated approach combining clinical hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy. This is sometimes referred to as CBT-hypnosis, where hypnosis is used as an additive benefit to traditional CBT. Studies have shown CBT-hypnosis can help reduce symptoms at post treatment and may have use in helping to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of CBT developed by Marsha Linehan specifically to treat people with suicidal thoughts and actions. In more recent years, DBT has since been expanded to effectively treat people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT is structured to help clients gain insight and skills to manage their thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT)

Emotionally Focused Therapy also sometimes referred to as couples therapy, is a therapy approach based on the idea that one’s emotions create his/her identity. The main focus of EFT therapy is to help individuals and couples identify and address unhealthy, destructive, and/or possibly dangerous emotions that could be affecting their thought processes and behaviors. EFT utilizes an empirical method that draws from the principles of a variety of psychotherapy approaches, such as Person-Centered Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, and/or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

Expressive Therapy

Expressive therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses various creative expression techniques as a form of communication with a therapist. This form of therapy is based on the premise that people can help heal themselves through the process of creating art, music, dance, writing, or other expressive acts. While clients who can use expressive therapy may have a wide range of difficulties, disabilities or diagnoses – expressive therapy is particularly useful in treating mild depression. Expressive therapy is an umbrella term for a variety of creative art therapy types. Some common types of expressive therapy include: art therapy, dance therapy, drama therapy, music therapy and writing therapy.

Exposure Therapy (ET)

Exposure therapy allows individuals to confront their fears in an environment that is both safe and controlled. This therapy may encourage individuals to become more desensitized to specific situations that commonly trigger their anxiety. In conjunction with CBT, it can help treat several conditions, including obsessive-compulsive-disorder (OCD), specific phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and panic disorder.

Existential Approach

Similar to the humanistic approach the existential approach to therapy distinguishes itself from other therapeutic styles by its concern for positive growth over pathology. However, the two approaches differ by theme in that the existential therapist is interested in guiding clients to find meaning or purpose in their lives while simultaneously facing their issues. The existential psychologist assumes that the clients’ problems are caused by the failure to create meaning in their lives.

Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR Therapy is an integrative approach to psychotherapy that has increased in popularity in recent years due to its proven effectiveness in treating trauma. EMDR has proven to play a significant role in helping people heal from past traumas and the symptoms of those traumas by helping to access the trauma memories and reprocessing them in a way that decreases their negative impact.

Family-Focused Therapy (FFT)

Family-focused therapy was developed to help treat bipolar disorder. The therapy technique was designed with the assumption that a patient’s relationship with his or her family is vital to the success of managing their illness. Family-focused therapy sessions includes family members with the goal of improving family relationships and creating a support system for treatment.

Family Systems Therapy

Family Systems therapy is often called “couples therapy” or “relationship counseling.” Its focus is to work with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. This school of therapy views the couple or family as a single system, and treatment is accomplished by direct participation of all members in the therapy sessions.

Humanistic Approach

The humanistic approach to therapy views human nature as basically good, with a potential to maintain healthy, meaningful relationships and to make choices that are in the best interest of oneself and others. The therapist is a guide to help clients free themselves from assumptions and negative self perceptions. The goal is to encourage growth, self-actualization and self-direction. For the humanistic psychologist, not being one’s true self is the source of problems.


Hypnotherapy is used to help clients break bad habits, hypnotherapy utilizes hypnosis or hypnotic suggestion to bring a client into a “trance-like” state in which they experience heightened focus and concentration. A hypnotherapist will use verbal repetition and mental images to help you feel calm, relaxed and more open to suggestions. It is important to note that at no time do you don’t lose control over your behavior.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy is most commonly used on an individual basis to treat depression or dysthymia and is based on the idea that interpersonal and life events impact mood and vice versa. Interpersonal therapy focuses on a persons interpersonal relationships. The treatment approach is based on the premise that improving communication patterns and the way you relate to others will effectively treat your depression. Interpersonal therapy helps you to identify when a behavior is causing problems, and guide you to change it.

Play Therapy

Play therapy is an important therapy technique used with children. At a minimum, the use of toys and games can help a therapist establish communication and develop a relationship with a child. While research in play therapy is minimal, therapist can sometimes better understand a child’s problems by watching how he or she plays.

Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of depth psychology. Its focus is to help you gain greater self-awareness and understanding over your own actions. This approach relies heavily on the relationship between client and therapist with the goal of identifying and explore how non-conscious emotions and motivations can influence behavior. Psychodynamic therapy tends to be more eclectic and is often interwoven with other types of therapy, like CBT or IPT, to treat various types of mental disorders.

Professional Members: Please note this is a short list of the various methods used in psychotherapy. If your preferred method of therapy is not listed here, and you would like us to add it, please feel free to contact us with a brief description.

If you or a loved one are looking to find the best therapist for you, start by searching TherapyTribe – therapist directory today.