What are the different approaches to psychotherapy?

One of the best ways to help you deal with your mental health issues, like anxiety or depression, is to use one of the psychotherapy techniques. Psychotherapy refers to talk therapy or counselling.


But not everyone knows what type of counselling they should seek when working through mental health issues. Therapy is not a one-size-fits-all type of treatment. Rather there are many different psychotherapy approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy.


Before deciding what type of psychotherapy you want to try, you’ll need to know more about psychotherapy techniques. Let’s look at the different approaches to psychotherapy.


Psychotherapy techniques

In the world of therapy, there are different approaches to help clients deal with their mental health issues. From anxieties to depression and more, when you find the right psychotherapy technique that works for you, you’ll be able to find freedom and healing.


Here are the main psychotherapy techniques being used by professionals.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on helping clients understand the connection between thoughts and action. Mental health professionals who use CBT will work with their clients to change thought patterns. Once a client can gain more control over their thoughts, it is expected that the unhealthy behaviour will cease. The main idea is that we can control our perceptions of situations by adjusting our assumptions.


This type of psychotherapy can be successful for those with anxiety, stress, depression or phobias. It can also work for clients who want to overcome additions, like smoking or overeating.


During CBT sessions, your therapist will help you recognize the negative thought pattern that leads to unhealthy behaviour. Psychotherapists also help clients change those thoughts to more positive or healthy ones. Shifting from a negative thought pattern to a positive one can bring about a change in unhealthy habits.


Psychodynamic therapy

Therapists who use a psychodynamic approach believe that all your life events – including things that have happened in your past – impact how you feel and behave today. The goal of psychodynamic therapy is to help you come to grips with negative feelings or past situations. Once you have understood the impact of what you’ve been through, you can start to process and move forward. Clients who undergo psychodynamic therapy will be able to make better choices, handle conflict differently and build more successful relationships.


Many clients who are depressed find healing with psychodynamic therapy. But, it’s crucial that you understand what is involved. During sessions, you’ll be asked questions about past experiences, and that can bring up some uncomfortable feelings. However, when successful, psychodynamic therapy can help you see life events as connected in the story of your life. You’ll see more clearly why you’ve made the choices you’ve made over the years.


Healing through psychodynamic therapy can take longer than some other approaches. This is because you’ll need time to deep dive into your past and talk about it. It may also take some time to understand and identify positive changes you can make to your life.


Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)

DBT is a form of CBT that was first developed for patients with borderline personality disorder. But it has also been effective in treating other mental health issues, particularly those who have strong negative emotions or may be practicing self-harm.


Patients in DBT will learn how to accept themselves and the challenges that life can bring. It often includes both one-on-one sessions with a counsellor and group sessions. While in therapy, patients will have an opportunity to practice skills and behaviours that enable them to cope with life better. Clients will learn how to understand their emotions, especially intense anger. You’ll also develop skills to manage conflict more successfully. DBT is also great for helping clients manage their impulses in stressful times and situations.


Interpersonal therapy

Clients who are struggling in their relationships with family or friends can try interpersonal therapy. The aim of this psychotherapy technique is to improve your communication skills. Because it has such a narrow focus, interpersonal therapy is a great short-term form of psychotherapy. If you’ve recently experienced a loss or have conflicts in your relationships, interpersonal therapy might work for you.


Interpersonal therapy can also help clients going through a role transition, such as new parents. Some major life events can bring about depression, and interpersonal therapy can also help you navigate these challenging situations.


Humanistic or experiential therapy

Humanistic therapy differs slightly from other psychotherapy approaches in that it focuses more on the individual rather than behaviours. Clients who want a holistic form of therapy will benefit from this approach. You’ll be encouraged to embrace self-exploration to find healing. Those with depression or anxiety often benefit from the experiential approach.


Therapists employing the humanistic therapy approach will use psychotherapy techniques like re-enactments or role-playing to help clients develop a deeper understanding of their emotions. Professionals will also let the client guide the sessions rather than lead the client.


Finding the right psychotherapy technique for you

Understanding the different psychotherapy techniques can help you identify the method you are most comfortable with and the one that will work best for you. Depending on what you seek therapy for, there may be more than one approach you can try.

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