Exploring the Different Types of Therapy

Deciding to go to therapy is a big step toward improving your mental health and quality of life. But once you choose to seek counseling, you have to decide between all the different types of therapy available.  From riding a horse and completing a ropes course to dance and painting, it can feel like the list of available treatments is endless. With so many treatment options available, how can you decide which one is right for you? In today’s post, I’ll help you understand the types of therapy available to you.

6 Types of Mental Health Therapy

While there are many applications within them, the different types of therapy fall into six categories. These categories guide a counselor’s general approach to addressing your concerns.

Counselors may even specialize in one or more of these kinds of therapy and they may recommend or use different types of therapies to treat varying client concerns.

1. Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Therapies 

Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies are in-depth talk treatments. They focus on changing behaviors, feelings, and thoughts by discovering unconscious motivations. 

In this type of therapy, you talk about your thoughts, daydreams, or even dreams. The counselor helps you identify your unconscious thoughts, patterns, and trends in them. They then help you relate those thoughts to your behaviors causing your distress. The therapist finds a connection between your unconscious mind and your actions. 

People may be in this intensive form of treatment for years, but they continue improving long after their therapy ends. It is not unusual for clients that choose psychoanalysis to go to therapy twice a week, or have longer sessions.

These therapies can treat mental health concerns, including:

  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Personality disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorder
  • Intimacy issues

2. Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy focuses on how behaviors you learned in the past affect you now. In this type of therapy, your counselor helps you identify the root cause of your behaviors, and provides suggestions and strategies for how to change the ones that cause you stress or concern.

Behavioral therapy addresses mental health concerns including:

3. Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy focuses on how people think. It addresses problematic thoughts and assumes that your beliefs cause you distress. 

In this type of therapy, you and your counselor work to identify thinking patterns that negatively affect you and replace them with more accurate, helpful thoughts. 

Cognitive therapy uses thought-stopping techniques, narrative therapy (journaling), mindfulness practice, and others to help mitigate certain thoughts.

Cognitive therapy treats mental health concerns including:

4. Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy is all about the individual and helping them reach their full abilities. This type of therapy focuses totally on the individual. It assumes that your worldview determines your choices, some of which cause you distress. You and your counselor work to interpret your feelings and improve your views so that you can live as the best version of yourself.

Humanistic therapy treats concerns, including:

5. Integrative or Holistic Therapy

Integrative or holistic therapy means using a blend of therapies and modalities to treat the mind and body while customizing treatment for each patient. Therapists use integrative or holistic therapy to treat various psychological problems and disorders. Integrative therapy may include therapeutic approaches borrowed from any or all of the treatments described above and more, depending on the patient’s needs. The flexibility and individualized approach is what makes integrative therapy popular.

6. Transpersonal Counseling

Transpersonal therapy is based on an integrative approach but differs from the Integrative or Holistic approach because it also includes a focus on the patient’s spiritual beliefs and or practices or lack thereof. Therapists use transpersonal counseling to treat various psychological problems or disorders.  

A transpersonal approach to counseling includes integrating religious and spiritual themes into psychotherapy and may range from asking questions about a client’s beliefs, values, and practices to making specific values-based recommendations for engaging in particular types of spiritual practices. This type of therapy aims to address the client’s mental, physical, social, emotional, creative, spiritual, and intellectual needs to facilitate healing and growth. To be clear, transpersonal counseling is not religious or Christian counseling.

The six kinds of therapy likely have various therapeutic applications that fall under them. But, all therapies generally fall into one of these six categories.

Choosing the Right Kind of Therapy

While it’s helpful to understand the kinds of therapy out there, choosing the right type of therapy for you is about finding a counselor you feel comfortable with. Then trust your counselor’s advice on the best treatment method for your concerns. 

When deciding on a therapist, think about your concerns and what type of therapy might work best for you. Oftentimes people ask a friend or colleague for a recommendation. Therapists are taught in graduate school to “not practice out of their scope of training.” It’s important to remember that just because a therapist was helpful for your friend doesn’t mean they would be helpful for you.

Seek out a therapist that has experience and training in your area of concern. But also keep your mind open to other treatment recommendations that a therapist may recommend. The kind of therapy you receive is always up to you. Don’t accept any treatment plan that you aren’t comfortable with.

Let All Counseling Help

Regardless of what type of therapy you decide is right for you, All Counseling wants to help. We want to help you find the right counselor to get the mental health support you deserve. Use our searchable therapist directory to find a counselor who specializes in the kind of therapy you need.


Different approaches to psychotherapy. (2021). Retrieved 8 October 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/approaches

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