There are so many different types of therapies, but what do they each do? Here I’ve written a comprehensive (but not exhaustive) list of the different kinds of therapies on offer, what the different therapies treat, how they work and what to expect from each therapy. If I’ve missed one, then let me know and I’ll add it to the list!
ACT / Acceptance & Commitment Therapy
Theory: What we think and do can have a negative impact on how we feel, but also some situations are difficult and will not improve so we must learn psychological flexibility to accept what is out of our control and commit to living life to the fullest within such limitations
Works on: long-term conditions such as pain and fatigue, depression and anxiety
What will they do? Behaviour change, mindfulness
Theory: The things we do are often a learnt response to certain situations and we can stop doing unhelpful things once we retrain ourselves.
Works on: phobias, compulsions, obsessions, brain injury, addiction
What will they do?
Exposure to feared situations, analysis of past behaviours, repetition of new behaviours, behavioural experiments
CAT / Cognitive Analytic Therapy
Looks at the way a person thinks, feels and acts, and the events and relationships that underlie these experiences (often from childhood or earlier in life). It brings together ideas and understanding from different therapies into one.
It is a time-limited therapy – between 4 and 24 weeks, but typically 16. It is available in many parts of the NHS.
CBT / Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.
It is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.
CBT cannot remove your problems, but it can help you deal with them in a more positive way. It is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.
CBT aims to help you crack this cycle by breaking down overwhelming problems into smaller parts and showing you how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel.
Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis.
Couples Therapy / Relationship Therapy
Relationship counseling is the process of counseling the parties of a human relationship in an effort to recognize, and to better manage or reconcile, troublesome differences and repeating patterns of stress upon the relationship. The relationship involved may be between members of a family or a couple, employees or employers in a workplace, or between a professional and a client.
Couple’s therapy (or relationship therapy) is a subset of relationship therapy. It may differ from other forms of relationship counseling in various regards including its duration. Short term counseling may be between 1 to 3 sessions whereas long-term couples may be between 12 and 24 sessions. An exception is “Solution focused brief therapy” couples therapy. In addition, counseling tends to be more ‘here and now’ and new coping strategies the outcome. Couples therapy is more about seemingly intractable problems with a relationship history, where emotions are the target and the agent of change.
Marriage counseling or marital therapy can refer to either or some combination of the above.
Trance states are part of everyday life, and include daydreaming and fantasising. Science indicates that we are in these kinds of states 90% of the time. For example, have you ever driven somewhere and not remembered anything of the journey?
Cognitive Hypnotherapy also suggests that all behaviours have a positive purpose, so the problems we experience are just the result of unconscious thought processes based on miscalculations, like misinterpretations of childhood experiences, or significant emotional events which lead to actions designed to bring a benefit, even though they often don’t.
Cognitive Hypnotherapy is about waking the person up so they remain in control of their actions, not hijacked into smoking, eating or running from spiders.
Counselling is a type of talking therapy that allows a person to talk about their problems and feelings in a confidential and dependable environment.
A counsellor is trained to listen with empathy (by putting themselves in your shoes). They can help you deal with any negative thoughts and feelings you have.
Sometimes the term “counselling” is used to refer to talking therapies in general, but counselling is also a type of therapy in its own right.
Counselling aims to help you deal with and overcome issues that are causing emotional pain or making you feel uncomfortable.
It can provide a safe and regular space for you to talk and explore difficult feelings. The counsellor is there to support you and respect your views. They won’t usually give advice, but will help you find your own insights into and understanding of your problems.
DBT / Dialectal Behaviour Therapy
A specific type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy developed to help better treat borderline personality disorder. Since its development, it has also been used for the treatment of other kinds of mental health disorders. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) treatment is a cognitive-behavioral approach that emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment. The theory behind the approach is that some people are prone to react in a more intense and out-of-the-ordinary manner toward certain emotional situations, primarily those found in romantic, family and friend relationships. DBT theory suggests that some people’s arousal levels in such situations can increase far more quickly than the average person’s, attain a higher level of emotional stimulation, and take a significant amount of time to return to baseline arousal levels. Because few people understand such reactions, most of all their own family and a childhood that emphasized invalidation, they don’t have any methods for coping with these sudden, intense surges of emotion. DBT is a method for teaching skills that will help in this task.
ECT / Electro-Convulsive Therapy
A procedure, done under general anesthesia, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses.
EMDR / Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing
If something traumatic has happened to you (whether it be a car accident, abuse or something seemingly less significant like being humiliated), the memory of your experience may come crashing back into your mind, forcing you to relive the original event with the same intensity of feeling – like it is taking place in the present moment.
These experiences that pop into your awareness may present themselves as either flashbacks or nightmares, and are thought to occur because the mind was simply too overwhelmed during the event to process what was going on.
As a result, these unprocessed memories and the accompanying sights, sounds, thoughts and feelings are stored in the brain in ‘raw’ form, where they can be accessed each time we experience something that triggers a recollection of the original event.
While it isn’t possible to erase these memories, the process of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) can alter the way these traumatic memories are stored within the brain – making them easier to manage and causing you less distress.
During EMDR therapy the client attends to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Therapist directed lateral eye movements are the most commonly used external stimulus but a variety of other stimuli including hand-tapping and audio stimulation are often used
Is also referred to as systemic therapy, is an approach that works with families and those who are in close relationships to foster change. These changes are viewed in terms of the systems of interaction between each person in the family or relationship
In humanistic therapy, there are two widely practiced techniques: gestalt therapy (which focuses on thoughts and feelings here and now, instead of root causes) and client-centered therapy (which provides a supportive environment in which clients can reestablish their true identity).
A time limited treatment that encourages the patient to regain control of mood and functioning typically lasting 12 – 16 weeks. IPT is based on the principle that there is a relationship between the way people communicate and interact with others and their mental health.
A life coach is someone who aims to help and empower others to make, meet and exceed personal and professional goals – including excelling in the workplace, becoming happy and fulfilled in the home, exploring the self and the world, and achieving ambitions.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a psychological therapy designed to aid in preventing the relapse of depression, specifically in individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). Cognitive methods can include educating the participant about depression. Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation, focus on becoming aware of all incoming thoughts and feelings and accepting them, but not attaching or reacting to them. The goal of MBCT is to interrupt these automatic processes and teach the participants to focus less on reacting to incoming stimuli, and instead accepting and observing them without judgment.
NLP / Neurolinguistic Programming
Encompasses three components involved in producing human experience: neurology, language and programing. The neurological system regulates how our bodies function, language determines how we interface and communicate with other people and our programming determines the kinds of models of the world we create. Neuro-Linguistic Programming describes the fundamental dynamics between mind (neuro) and language (linguistic) and how their interplay affects our body and behavior (programming). In the belief system of NLP it is not possible for human beings to know objective reality. Wisdom, ethics and ecology do not derive from having the one ‘right’ or ‘correct’ map of the world, because human beings would not be capable of making one. Rather, the goal is to create the richest map possible that respects the systemic nature and ecology of ourselves and the world we live in. The people who are most effective are the ones who have a map of the world that allows them to perceive the greatest number of available choices and perspectives. NLP is a way of enriching the choices that you have and perceive as available in the world around you. Excellence comes from having many choices. Wisdom comes from having multiple perspectives.
Person-Centred or Client-Centred Therapy
Person-centred therapy – also known as person-centred counselling or client-centred counselling – is a humanistic approach that deals with the ways in which individuals perceive themselves consciously rather than how a counsellor can interpret their unconscious thoughts or ideas. If there are any techniques they are listening, accepting, understanding and sharing, which seem more attitude-orientated than skills-orientated.
Psychoanalysis / Psychodynamic Therapy
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a form of depth psychology, the primary focus of which is to reveal the unconscious content of a client’s psyche in an effort to alleviate psychic tension. In this way, it is similar to psychoanalysis. It is a therapeutic process which helps patients understand and resolve their problems by increasing awareness of their inner world and its influence over relationships both past and present. It differs from most other therapies in aiming for deep seated change in personality and emotional development. Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy aim to help people with serious psychological disorders to understand and change complex, deep-seated and often unconsciously based emotional and relationship problems thereby reducing symptoms and alleviating distress. However, their role is not limited only to those with mental health problems. Many people who experience a loss of meaning in their lives or who are seeking a greater sense of fulfilment may be helped by psychoanalytic or psychodynamic psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy is a type of therapy used to treat emotional problems and mental health conditions.
It involves talking to a trained therapist, either one-to-one, in a group or with your wife, husband or partner. It allows you to look deeper into your problems and worries, and deal with troublesome habits and a wide range of mental disorders, such as schizophrenia .
Psychotherapy usually involves talking, but sometimes other methods may be used for example, art, music, drama and movement.
Psychotherapy can help you discuss feelings you have about yourself and other people, particularly family and those close to you. In some cases, couples or families are offered joint therapy sessions together.
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Solution Focussed Brief Therapy
A goal-directed collaborative approach to psychotherapeutic change that is conducted through direct observation of clients’ responses to a series of precisely constructed questions. Based upon social constructionist thinking and philosophy. SFBT focuses on addressing what clients want to achieve exploring the history and provenance of problem(s). Therapy sessions typically focus on the present and future, focusing on the past only to the degree necessary for communicating empathy and accurate understanding of the client’s concerns
Family therapy, also referred to as systemic therapy, is an approach that works with families and those who are in close relationships to foster change. These changes are viewed in terms of the systems of interaction between each person in the family or relationship
Once you’ve chosen your therapy, use this post to help you choose which therapist.
www.happii.uk is a website providing information about mental health and wellbeing.
Happii.uk is provided by Anna Batho, a therapist working in High Wycombe and providing therapy in Amersham and the wider Buckinghamshire (Bucks) region.
You can contact her here.