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Different Types of Therapy: What Are They and Who Are They For?

The hardest step when it comes to taking care of your mental health is often the first one. Making the decision to seek therapy can be very difficult for some people for a variety of reasons. One of the more common issues faced by those hesitant to seek therapy is the overwhelming amount of therapists and types of therapy. 

While the list may include dozens of different options, there are really only a few common types that can help to treat most issues that people face daily. It’s important to remember that with therapy, it’s less about the specific treatments and methods, and more about the quality of the mental health professional involved. 

The Common Types Of Therapy 

This list of therapeutic approaches is the more commonly practiced methods. Just about all of these options will include discussions about how challenging situations, emotions, and behaviors are affecting your life. They will also likely involve working through negative events or distressing thoughts, but, while difficult in the moment, will be worth it for a happier and more fulfilling life. 

  • Client-Centered Therapy. Also known as person-centered therapy or Rogerian therapy, this method focuses on the client as much as possible. The therapist will provide very little authority or direction and will instead offer only the subtlest of guidance in order to encourage the client to take control of their lives and destiny. 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This approach treats the dysfunctional and negative thinking of a client in order to reduce or eliminate inappropriate behaviors, mental illness, and dysfunctional emotions. The primary focus is mostly on the thoughts and thinking patterns of the client as opposed to the client as an individual. 
  • Existential Therapy: Part of the humanistic category of therapy, this approach emphasizes and helps clients manage aspects of the human condition known as “givens” such as isolation, meaninglessness, mortality, and freedom. Derived from existential philosophy, this therapy style focuses on accepting fears and anxieties created by these givens and overcoming them. 
  • Gestalt Therapy: The emphasis of this type of therapy is placed on personal responsibility and helps the client to focus on the present as opposed to the past or future. It also stresses the development of a strong relationship between the therapist and client, the social context of the client’s life, self-awareness, and direct feelings and perceptions instead of interpretations. 
  • Psychodynamic Therapy: Also known as psychoanalytic therapy, this therapeutic approach explores the unconscious thoughts and feelings of the client and how the impact of the past is felt on the present and future. This is one of the oldest types of psychotherapy and arguably the most famous. A heavy emphasis is placed on the events of childhood and how they have shaped the client into who they are today.

The Less Common Types of Therapy 

This list is made up of the more specific types of therapy and only serves to illustrate the diversity of options. The treatments and therapy styles listed above are the most common and most popular for a reason, and if you are considering therapy, they will be the ones that you would most likely encounter. The list of less common types of therapy is as follows:

  • Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Therapy: This therapy explores difficult emotional experiences and relationship issues in order to develop coping tools to improve the daily life functioning of the client. 
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: This treatment will help the client to develop better mindfulness-related skills with the goal being more consistent values and better psychological flexibility. 
  • Adlerian Psychotherapy: This approach focuses on improving the client’s ability to adapt to their feelings of inadequacy and inferiority in relation to others. 
  • Anger Management: This treatment aims to teach the client how to identify stressors, remain calm, and handle tense situations in more positive and constructive ways 
  • Bibliotherapy: This treatment uses literature in order to improve the mental health of a client and further explore psychological issues. 
  • Coherence Therapy: Also known as depth-oriented brief therapy, this therapy aims to help the client dynamically alter deeply held beliefs relating to a particular symptom or issue. 
  • Collaborative Therapy: This therapy relies on using the knowledge and experiences of both the client and the therapist in order to create positive progress. 
  • Compassion Focused Therapy: This approach places a strong emphasis on the client being more compassionate toward themselves and others. 
  • Conflict Resolution Therapy: This treatment teaches the client how to better resolve their conflicts with more positive results and minimal stress. 
  • Contemplative Psychotherapy: By integrating Buddhist teachings and Western psychotherapy, this approach focuses on self-awareness, improving overall health, and using wisdom to heal. 
  • Core Process Psychotherapy: This mindfulness-based approach places a strong emphasis on body and mind for self-exploration purposes and healing. 
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, this style of therapy uses a problem solving and acceptance-based framework in order to treat severe and chronic mental health conditions and issues such as borderline personality disorder, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 
  • Ego State Therapy: Similar to psychodynamic therapy, this approach operates under the core principle that a person’s psyche is composed of the identities and roles they take on in their lives. The goal is to address these separate identities and the mental health issues that may be connected to them. 
  • Emotion-Focused Therapy: This treatment uses emotions as a source of healing and insight. Emotion-focused therapy is especially effective when dealing with moderate depression, issues stemming from childhood abuse, and couples in the middle of a conflict. 
  • Holistic Psychotherapy: This approach integrates other types of therapy and focuses on the relationship between the mind, body, and soul. 
  • Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy: This treatment helps the client to permanently change their character flaws in a short period of time by helping them release emotional inhibition and discussing the source of character issues. 
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy: The focus of this therapy is the relationships and major life events of the client and improving their overall mood and interpersonal issues. 
  • Journey Therapy: During this process, the therapist will guide their client on a mental and emotional journey in order to uncover repressed memories that have created issues in the present. 
  • Jungian Psychotherapy: This therapy focuses on the balance between consciousness and unconsciousness. A client that explores both sides can become more whole and well adjusted by achieving a balance between them. 
  • Logotherapy: This treatment focuses on the pursuit of meaning and purpose in the life of the client. 
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy: This therapy uses methods similar to cognitive behavioral therapy and combines them with mindfulness strategies in order to help the client to assess thoughts in the present. 
  • Motivation Enhancement Therapy: This approach focuses on improving the client’s motivations to make positive changes and eliminate maladaptive and negative patterns. 
  • Narrative Therapy: This therapy aims to help clients to interpret their experiences as a story in order to give them meaning in their lives and guide them. It also encourages the client to identify their skills, values, and knowledge so they can use them in order to live a better life. 
  • Positive Psychotherapy: This treatment helps the client to view their illness or issues in a more positive way. It focuses on the innate abilities of the client, storytelling, inner balance, and hope. 
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: This therapy helps the client to develop rational thinking skills in order to facilitate healthy emotional behaviors and expressions. 
  • Reality Therapy: This therapeutic approach focuses on the present issues of a client and encourages them to change behavior that may be preventing them from addressing said issues. It operates under the core principle that a person experiences distress when they are not meeting their five basic needs: power, love and belonging, freedom, fun, and survival. 
  • Redecision Therapy: This treatment helps the client to examine messages from caretakers and adults in their childhood along with any negative decisions. 
  • Regression Therapy: This therapy addresses the three layers of consciousness and aims to help the client align them more properly and positively. 
  • Relational  Psychotherapy: This approach helps the client to become more cognitively and emotionally healthy by forming and maintaining fulfilling relationships in their life. 
  • Schema Therapy: This treatment helps the client to identify the cognitive and behavioral patterns that created or are maintaining their mental health issues. It is especially effective in treating borderline personality disorder. 
  • Solution-Focused Brief Therapy: This therapy focuses on setting goals for the present and the future as opposed to addressing the past or symptoms. 
  • Symbolic Modeling: This approach uses symbols, progressive questioning, metaphors, and modeling in order to enact positive changes in the client. 

The Takeaway 

They are very many different types of therapy that exist and were created to treat all kinds of different mental health issues. While there are better treatments for issues than others, there are not really any wrong choices in therapy.

When it comes to therapy, the most important part is taking the first step and seeking out help. The type of therapy is not as important as one may think. The most important factor is the mental health professional involved with the therapy. Finding one that’s qualified and motivated to help their clients get through the toughest times of their lives is much more important than the style of therapy they specialize in. 


  1. Psychology Today Types of Therapy (pyschologytoday.com)
  2. Types of Therapy: Different Types of Approaches and How They Work (healthline.com)
  3. Types of Therapy” goodtherapy.org 
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