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10 Different Types of Psychotherapy

There are many different types of Psychotherapy to consider

Psychotherapy can help correct unwanted behavior, overcome personal problems, and improve your mental health. A good therapist will listen to your concerns and recommend one or two approaches best suited for your goals.

Years of research show psychotherapy is more enduring, more cost-effective, and leads to fewer relapses of anxiety and depression than medication alone.

In other words …

“Psychotherapy works, and the science and research are there to back it up.”

– Bruce E. Wampold, PhD

In this article, we will explore the different types of psychotherapy and share a few examples of specific approaches.

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Different Types of Psychotherapy & Approaches

There are many different types of psychotherapy. A therapist will listen to your concerns and recommend the best type of psychotherapy and approach to achieve your goals.

Here are a few of the different types of psychotherapy:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy

  • Existential Approach

  • Family Therapy

  • Humanistic Approach

  • Hypnotherapy

  • Interpersonal Therapy

  • Pet Therapy

  • Psychodynamic Therapy

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

When you hear someone mention cognitive behavioral therapy, they are really talking about a form of talk therapy, where you and your therapist work to change your thoughts, feelings, and actions from negative to positive.

According to the American Psychological Association, cognitive behavioral therapy has many benefits, making it the most widely used technique by therapists today.

Role-playing, facing your fears, relaxation techniques, problem-solving and recognizing rational versus irrational thoughts are a part of this therapy. The main premise is to change negative patterns to positive ones, so you can lead a better lifestyle.

2. Couples & Marriage Therapy

Couples and marriage therapy attempts to help resolve interpersonal conflicts that may be negatively impacting a romantic relationship.

This type of therapy is especially beneficial for those interested in developing better communication skills, correcting undesirable behavior, and developing a stronger relationship. This particular type of therapy can be instrumental for serious couples, engaged couples, and marriage couples.

3. Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Therapists find that dialectical behavior therapy helps those suffering from borderline disorder. It can help treat other illnesses such as eating disorders and self-harming behaviors, but borderline disorder was what it was originally designed to treat.

Dialectical behavior therapy implements mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and regulation of emotions.

4. Existential

Existential psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on an in-depth examination of your experiences.

This approach examines a variety of universal concepts, including death, freedom, responsibility, and the meaning of life. Rather that assessing and treating patients, this particular approach involves a philosophical exploration.

5. Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing

Eye movement and desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) is typically used to treat patients who have experienced trauma and are suffering from post-trauma stress.

Your therapist will ask you to recall the distressing events from your past. However, they do not want you to focus on the actual event, rather on the emotions and feelings associated with the event.

Using a hand movement technique to guide your eyes from side to side, EMDR also helps you focus on your body and which parts are connected to the trauma.

6. Exposure Therapy

If you have anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or a phobia, exposure therapy may help you. A therapist will first teach you techniques that can calm you such as relaxation, deep breathing, mindfulness, and imagery.

Once you learn these calming methods, the therapist will begin to expose you to your fears, little by little. With each exposure, you will implement relaxation tools when you begin to feel anxious. A therapist provides a safe environment and guides you through the process.

7. Family Therapy

Family therapy is helpful for people interested in resolving problematic issues affecting the overall health of the family.

A licensed marriage and family therapist will observe how the family communicates in an effort to identify potentially problematic aspects of how the family interacts with each other. After the initial evaluation, the therapist may ask to meet with the family again or focus on meeting with a specific individual of the family.

Family therapy is an effective way to improve how your family interacts, including everything from communication skills, defining roles, and showing respect for each other.

8. Interpersonal Therapy

If you find your issues are social in nature, interpersonal therapy can help. This type of treatment allows the therapist to work with you on how you interact with family, friends, co-workers and even strangers socially.

The idea behind interpersonal therapy is that if you suffer from symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental illness, your interpersonal relationships may be suffering too. They may even be playing a role in your mental health problems. Solving these issues can improve your mental health.

9. Pet Therapy

A study completed by UCLA found that using pets in therapy reduces anxiety and loneliness while increasing mental stimulation. Pet therapy has shown to increase happiness. And because pets help you relax, you are better able to recall the past and the issue needing attention. Pet therapy also has many physical benefits as well, including lowered blood pressure.

Dogs are not the only pets used in therapy today, even though they are the most common. You can choose cats, rabbits, birds, and even fish.

10. Psychodynamic Therapy

In psychodynamic therapy, the goal is simple, recognize past thoughts, feelings or behaviors that are causing your current problems. The therapist will help you work through these issues, resolving them so you can move forward.

Psychodynamic Therapy is known to increase your self-awareness about your personal issues. This leads to you having the ability to address these issues. This type of therapy has offered many people higher self-esteem, improved relationships, ability to cope properly with emotions and be assertive when necessary.


There is a wide range of different types of psychotherapy, each of which offers a unique approach to help you achieve your goals.

While you are not expected to understand the difference between these psychotherapy approaches, it will help you find the best therapist for your needs. For example, if you want to resolve a problem involving your family, a licensed marriage and family therapist will have the training, experience, and insight needed to help you reach your goals.

Whether you’re interested in correcting unwanted behavior, overcome personal problems, or improving your overall mental health, science indicates psychotherapy works. Therapy may not work for everyone, but research shows it offers a more enduring solution when it does work.