Whether you are going through a tough phase in life or have a mental health condition that is causing you significant psychological turmoil, a good and qualified therapist will be able to assist you without judgment.
When a mental health professional diagnoses you, they may make certain treatment recommendations depending on your specific requirements. However, with so many different options available, it can be difficult to commit to a certain type of therapy when starting from scratch.
Therefore, here is a list of the most common types of psychotherapy and some advice on how to choose the right kind for certain types of issues.
In this style of therapy, the patient openly discusses their feelings, and the therapist helps relate these feelings to continuous patterns in the patient’s life dating back to childhood, in order to better understand present challenges and treat the source of current issues. This method also places an emphasis on the significance of the patient’s relationships with people in the past and present.
This kind of therapy is likely what you’ve seen on TV shows or in movies, and it has been shown to help with issues like depression, general anxiety, social phobias, psychological issues caused by chronic pain, eating disorders, and even personality disorders and psychopathologic conditions such as schizophrenia (coupled with medication).
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT for short, is founded on the premise that psychological distress is caused by harmful thinking and behavioral habits and patterns that people have developed over time (largely connected to the concept of behavioral health). In this method, the therapist concentrates on the present to assist the patient in learning how to manage a specific problem, rather than attempting to identify what prior experiences may have contributed to the current situation.
CBT is seen as a short-term approach to psychotherapy. The therapist takes a more active role here by teaching the patient new ways to respond to stress, as well as more effective coping mechanisms, in order to mitigate unhelpful thoughts and actions.
Humanistic therapy examines how your worldview influences your decisions, particularly those that cause you distress. This type of therapy is founded on the assumption that you are the best person to understand your own experiences and needs, while humanistic therapists aim to assist you by providing advice and support without interpreting your emotions for you.
Humanistic methods include existential therapy, which helps you understand concepts of personal responsibility over your choices, as well as discovering your life’s purpose; gestalt therapy, which helps you evaluate how unresolved issues, such as relationship or family disputes, impact your emotional and mental wellbeing; as well as person-centred therapy, which focuses on personal growth, self-acceptance, and positive transformation, based on the idea that emotional pain can occur when others criticise your choices or behaviours.
Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR works by stimulating the brain hemispheres with rhythmic tones or taps to assist patients with processing traumatic memories and stressful situations. This allows individuals to work through typically fragmented memories in a safe and supportive environment by tapping into the logic and emotion of past traumatic events.
This type of therapy can be quite useful for individuals living with trauma or traumatic life experiences that impede them from functioning in their everyday lives.
For example, EMDR has been demonstrated to be beneficial for people who are suffering with trauma or anxiety induced by PTSD, past or present experiences of abuse, panic attacks, substance abuse, eating disorders, phobias and trauma-related depression.
In general, the level of anxiety and other related issues a patient suffers from should be carefully assessed in order to choose several different approaches to treatment, e.g. natural supplementation for a calming effect such as great-quality GABA supplements, prescription medication and, of course, psychotherapy.
Keep in mind that many therapists end up combining strategies from many forms of psychotherapy. It’s also entirely natural to try out one strategy, discover that it doesn’t work for you, and then try a different one accordingly.
Ultimately, remember that it is perfectly fine to switch therapists or treatment types if they’re not working for you. You just need to continue to look until you discover someone who feels right for you and the mental health issues you wish to address and alleviate.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.