Different Types of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is a form of mental health treatment. It’s often used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with medications to treat mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression.

During a psychotherapy session, an individual talks with their Psychologist or licensed mental health professional to identify and change troubling thoughts and behaviors. Psychotherapy helps to understand the root causes of both positive and negative thoughts, emotions, actions, and behaviors that may contribute to an individual’s mental health illness. It can also be used to identify life events for challenges, such as a major illness, death, or divorce, that contribute to mental illness.

What Can Psychotherapy Treat?

The goal of psychotherapy is to help a patient regain a sense of control and pleasure in life, as well as to develop coping techniques and problem-solving skills. Therapy can help treat a wide range of mental health disorders, including:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD / Trauma
  • Phobia
  • Personality disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Addictions
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Social Anxiety
  • Burnout
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Grief
  • Loss

Psychotherapy Formats

Therapy can be administered in a variety of formats, including:

  • Individual therapy: This therapy includes only the patient and their therapist.
  • Group therapy: Two or more individuals participate in therapy sessions at the same time. Patients share experiences and learn that others feel the same way or have similar experiences (i.e., they are not alone in their struggle).
  • Couples therapy: Also called marriage counseling, couples therapy helps partners and spouses understand their loved one’s mental illness, identify changes in communication and behavior to strengthen relationships, and how to develop positive coping mechanisms to benefit both parties in the relationship.
  • Family therapy: It can be helpful for a family member to understand what their loved one is going through. Family therapy is designed to provide a safe space for all voices to be heard as the family deals with mental health concerns, behavioral challenges, or life changes (such as death or divorce).
forms of psychotherapy

Different Approaches to Psychotherapy

Approaches to psychotherapy generally fall into five general categories:

  • Psychodynamic therapies: based upon the theories of Sigmund Freud, where the general belief is that childhood years are the most formative years of an individual’s life. The goal of psychodynamic therapies is to help patients understand the unconscious forces that play a role in their current behaviors, thoughts, and emotions based on their childhood experiences.
  • Behavior therapy: pioneered by Ivan Pavlov, behavior therapy focuses on the role of learning in developing both normal and abnormal behaviors. Several variations have developed since its emergence in the 1950s, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on both thoughts and behaviors.
  • Cognitive therapy: focuses on what people think rather than what they do. Cognitive therapists believe dysfunctional thinking leads to dysfunctional emotions or behaviors. By changing their thoughts, people can change how they feel and how they act/react to their environment.
  • Humanistic therapy: focuses on people’s capacity to make rational choices and develop to their maximum potential. Respect for others and concern are key components of humanistic therapy. Humanistic therapy is broken into three approaches, including gestalt therapy, client-centered therapy rejects, and existential therapy.
  • Integrative or holistic therapy: Instead of committing to one approach, many therapists take an integrative approach to their therapy by blending the elements from different approaches to meet the specific needs of their patients.
therapy approaches

Common Types of Psychotherapy

Depending on the specific needs of the patient, there are several approaches to psychotherapy. After discussing your specific mental health challenges and goals, your doctor or therapist will determine which approach to use.

Psychodynamic therapy is grounded on the foundation that individuals have emotional problems as a result of unresolved and unconscious conflicts, often stemming from childhood. The goal is to understand these feelings by talking about the experiences and to develop coping skills to manage these feelings in the future. Psychodynamic therapy is typically administered over a period of several months, but it can last longer based on the needs of the patient.

Interpersonal therapy focuses on the interactions and behaviors individuals have with their family, friends, and romantic partners. The goal is to improve self-esteem and communication skills. Ideal for treating depression caused by grief, major life events, or relationship conflicts, interpersonal therapy generally lasts between 3 to 4 months.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is recommended for people who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders in conjunction with antidepressant medication. CBT helps patients identify and change inaccurate perceptions they have of themselves and the world around them. The goal is to establish new ways of thinking by directing attention to both the “wrong” and “right” assumptions the patient makes about themselves and others.

BE Psychology Center

If you or your loved one needs help managing depression or any other mental disorder, contact our center to schedule a session with a professional psychologist in Dubai. Our family of clinicians and mental health professionals combine a wide range of expertise and experience to help you with your development. We’re dedicated to helping our clients find the solutions they need to achieve their mental health goals.


  reem shaheen counseling psychologist  

Reem Shaheen – LMHC