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Types of Therapy
"Great results cannot be achieved at once; we must be satisfied to advance in life as we walk...one step at a time."
Types of Psychotherapy
There are many different types of psychotherapy representing different theories, disciplines, treatment venues, and even emerging research. One of the most exciting aspects of my professional is the advent of new research and clinically-proven methods for assisting clients with discovering and embracing happier, more fulfilled lives.
My discussion below is reflective of some of the most common types of therapy and those which I have found helpful in the adult specialties I treat. It is important to realize that therapies and treatment modes are selected and customized for the unique needs and goals of the individual client. There is no "set therapy" or "perfect therapy" that can be applied to any given case. Each individual is as unique as their own fingerprint and it is the collaborative effort of the therapy relationship to discover what treatment modes will be most helpful for each individual. It is also important to realize that as your self-discovery journey unfolds, your growth may point to new methods and applications based on your new skills or understanding of yourself. Self-discovery and healing are both dynamic processes.
If you are interviewing a therapist for services, it can be helpful to ask what their background and expertise may be with the types of therapy they specifically offer and what they have found to be most helpful with your specific concerns. For assistance with interviewing a therapist, click here.
Before we talk about different types of therapies and how they might be offered, it's important to consider what constitutes "great therapy." Great therapy is not predicated on a specific theory or discipline. It is common to any theory or discipline if it exhibits these elements:
Relationship: Strong positive outcomes result from the strong, positive, professional relationships in therapy. In my opinion, the best relationships are collaborative. Both of us combine our skills and knowledge of ourselves to forge a relationship that evolves with safety, trust, and commitment to doing the work for healing and embracing change.
Commitment: Healing takes work. Effecting positive change in our lives takes a dedicated spirit to pursuing our health in body, mind, and spirit. It is a commitment you make to yourself. The most effective outcomes I have experienced always involve a spirit of commitment on the part of the therapist and the client.
Listening, Compassion, Empathy, Guidance, and Education: These are the hallmarks of successful therapy relationships. Both of us have a unique opportunity to learn from one another in a compassionate, non-judgmental framework, sharing empathy, engaging guidance, all within a willingness to learn. Learning about our strengths and challenges (we all have both) engages our curiosity, our courage, and the willingness to extend ourselves in our lives with greater understanding, purpose, and meaning.
Openness: Being open to self-discovery and change are two vital components to successful outcomes. Both of us engaging in therapy need to be open to and curious about positive change.
Honesty and Authenticity: Successful therapy outcomes are the result of honest and authentic relationships between you and your therapist. Success is also reflective of the unique relationship you share with yourself.
Empowerment: Successful therapy involves empowering you to fully engage your capacities for change (we all have them) and to provide the skills, tools, and resources to effect the change(s) you seek.
Imperfection: Therapy relationships are like any other relationship we have in our lives. They are not perfect. They involve people. All relationships encounter stumbling blocks and two of the greatest skills we learn together are the ability to accept imperfection and to work through the hurdles that are common in all relationships.
Traditional Types of Therapy
While there are many, many types of therapy and therapy approaches, I focus my clinical practice of adult treatment modalities drawing from the primary areas below. For a complete list of therapy types and approaches, including those for children and families, you may find www.goodtherapy.org to be a good starting point for a comprehensive list.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): We all engage in patterns of thinking and behavior in our day-to-day living. CBT explores the dynamic relationships and patterns between our beliefs, thoughts, and emotions in relation to our behaviors and actions.
Psychodynamic Therapy: Psychodynamic approaches focus on the role our subconscious mind plays in protecting us from our own vulnerabilities. Our coping strategies (defense mechanisms) can assist us by pushing vulnerable thoughts, emotions, and experiences into our subconscious. Until we address our subconscious vulnerabilities and bring them into awareness, our unhealthy defense mechanisms can continue to interfere with our lives.
Humanistic Therapy: Humanistic approaches to psychotherapy engage different techniques that focus on the prioritization of our needs and the pursuit of self-actualization within the healthy fulfillment of those needs. Humanistic approaches tend to address the whole person (mind, body, and spirit) in their approach to their day-to-day life experiences (both positive and challenging).
Gestalt Therapy: Gestalt approaches focus on your experiences in the present day environment and your relationship to those experiences as a means of pursuing symptom relief, life fulfillment, and personal growth.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach that addresses psychosocial aspects of mental health. Some people’s emotional arousal levels can increase far more quickly than others, achieve a higher level of emotional intensity, and involve a significant amount of time to return to normal arousal levels. As such, these individuals can experience extreme swings in their emotions. DBT focuses on teaching coping skills for managing intense emotions in our day-to-living.
Rapid Resolution Therapy (RRT): RRT is an innovative approach to working with our subconscious mind and how trauma can impact our ability to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Our subconscious mind governs our thoughts, emotions, memory, actions, and automatic responses to events or circumstances in our lives. RRT is designed to engage our subconscious mind and address the impact of troubling events from our past. The focus of RRT is to replace our negative behaviors, interactions, and traumatic emotions with healthy behaviors and emotions that support our sense of well-being.
Therapy is offered in a variety of venues depending on the needs of the client. While individual therapy is the most common venue, other venues may also be used if they add meaning and context to the self-discovery and healing process.
Adjunctive therapies can include such things as acupuncture, massage therapy, biofeedback, and other forms of mind and body healing approaches.
Expressive therapies are approaches that engage our capacities for self-expression as a means of healing. They can include such things as: art therapy, dance therapy, music therapy, yoga therapy, and more.
Animal assisted therapies come in a variety of forms and they rely on the nurturing relationships that animals and human beings create together. They have been found to provide significant improvements in our capacities to improve human relationships, manage our stress more effectively, develop self-esteem, foster trust, and change challenging emotional responses.