Exploring The Different Approaches To Psychotherapies

woman wearing gray jacket in a psychotherapy session.

Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/woman-wearing-gray-jacket-F9DFuJoS9EU

Seeking help for mental health issues has long been regarded as taboo. Whether you're experiencing negative moods, losing interest in things you once loved, feeling overwhelmed by life, struggling with low self-esteem, or have undergone a traumatic experience, therapy can help. In fact, 75% of individuals receiving psychotherapy report mental health benefits.

Psychotherapy helps when you struggle with changes, have trouble adjusting to stress, or have mental health or behavioral conditions and improves the quality of life. Let's explore the different options you can choose in this regard.

What is Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, aims to identify and change unhealthy thoughts, behavior, and emotions through conversations. It helps alleviate symptoms associated with different disorders and helps identify the psychological roots of one’s condition. It is related to issues such as:

●     Grief

●     Stress

●     Coping difficulties

●     Relationship issues

●     Diagnosed mental health conditions

Psychotherapies can work stand-alone or in combination with medication. Your treatment will depend on your psychologist's theoretical orientation, current research, and what works best in your situation.

Types of Psychotherapy

Many different types and approaches treat a plethora of psychotherapy issues. Let's look into them.

1.   Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, treats various mental health conditions, such as anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, and more. CBT involves learning to recognize your distorted (unhelpful or negative) thoughts, how they influence your behavior, and how to adopt healthier and more realistic thinking habits and patterns.

Your psychologist will help you practice exercises in session and outside session as "homework" to develop coping skills, such as progressive muscle relaxation or Diaphragmatic Breathing, to help you train your body to relax in anxious states. Some other techniques used with CBT include:

  • Cognitive restructuring: Reframing your negative thoughts in more productive and positive ways.
  • Guided discovery: Your therapist acquaints themself with your perspective and asks questions to challenge those beliefs.
  • Exposure therapy: In slow increments, the therapist exposes you to your source of anxiety and fear while helping you develop coping strategies.
  • Journaling: Your psychologist can ask you to write about your negative and positive thoughts that occurred between sessions.

2.   Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is a modified version of CBT. It aims to help you develop healthy coping strategies to deal with stress, live in the moment, and improve your relationship with others. Compared to CBT, it puts more emphasis on managing Interpersonal relations and emotions.

This therapy was originally for individuals with BPD (borderline personality disorder) or those struggling with suicidal thoughts. However, it has been adapted to treat other mental health conditions, such as substance use disorder, self-harm, or depression. DBT helps you learn four core skills or modules:

  • Mindfulness: It focuses on “what” skills - the present, emotions, sensations, thoughts, and separating emotions and feelings from thoughts. It also covers "how" skills – using radical acceptance to accept parts of yourself (as long as they don't hurt you or others), practicing mindfulness, and more.
  • Distress tolerance: It aims to help you through negative times without resorting to destructive coping skills (self-harm, self-isolation, substance use), such as distracting yourself until you’ve calmed down to deal with the situation.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: It helps build new relations, strengthen old ties, and end unhealthy or toxic relationships, including learning how to ask for and get what you want and working through relationship conflicts.
  • Emotional regulation: You deal with primary emotional reactions so they don't lead to distressing secondary emotions, i.e., how anger might lead to guilt or shame.

3.   Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy, or IPT, lasts between 12-16 weeks and focuses on building interpersonal and communicative skills because the practitioner believes mental health issues result from role conflicts or relational deficits.

Your therapist will interview you to identify difficulties in your personal relations and then focus on key aspects you want to resolve by equipping you with skills, such as bringing up topics with loved ones that were difficult in the past, to direct your emotions positively. Studies found that IPT can be as effective as antidepressants in treating depression.

4.   Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of talk therapy that helps individuals better understand how they feel and think; it helps improve their ability to make choices, forge the life they want, and relate to others. It considers the multifaceted aspects of your life and enables you to understand how unconscious or unknown moments can be behind difficult behavior or thoughts. Psychodynamic therapy follows these fundamental principles:

  • How unconscious motivations, such as social pressure, can influence behavior
  • How your experience shapes personality and past experiences, shape the present.
  • Developing emotional understanding and insight to cope with psychological issues
  • Improving interpersonal relations or expanding choice range can help you address problems.
  • How freeing yourself from the past can improve your future


Therapies help in multiple ways, from improving your mental health to equipping you with skills to cope with ongoing problems. You can seek help for any reason, and no problem is too small, but remember, what works for one might not work for another. There are many types of therapies and techniques out there, and it takes time and constant effort to find the one that works best for you.

Know someone who would be interested in reading Exploring The Different Approaches To Psychotherapies

Share This Page With Them.

Back To The Top Of The Page

Go Back To The Home Page