What Are The Different Types of Psychotherapies?

What is Psychotherapy?

Have you ever wondered what exactly one means by psychotherapy? Broadly, psychotherapy, also commonly referred to as therapy, is a treatment method for mental disorders designed to help people through emotional and behavioral problems improve their lives. Psychologists employ various kinds of therapies depending on factors including their specialty and what they think might best benefit the client. Some of the chief types of psychotherapies include psychodynamic and psychoanalytical therapy, behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, and more. 

Psychodynamic and Psychoanalytical Therapy 

Psychodynamic and psychoanalytical therapy is the oldest modern therapy based on Freud’s concepts and techniques. The goal of psychodynamic and psychoanalyst therapists is to cultivate insight. The of psychodynamic therapists  is based on several beliefs that form the core of psychodynamic therapy itself:

  1. Psychodynamic therapists believe that abnormal behaviors and unconscious conflicts originate from traumatic childhood experiences. 
  2. They wish to analyze the aversive feelings, fantasies, past events, and themes that occur in the lives of their clients. 
  3. Emphasize the importance of achieving insight through the client’s unconscious mind allowing them to identify the cause of their symptoms

Similarly, in psychoanalytical therapy, the goal is to decrease guilt and make the unconscious mind conscious by increasing awareness of conflicts and memories. This is done through six different approaches:

  1. Free Association: Clients are asked to speak any and every thought that comes to their mind: expressing themselves without any restraints 
  2. Interpretation: Analysts form interpretations based on the client’s free association, trying to determine the origin of the client’s thoughts and desires
  3. Dream Association: The therapist must try to interpret the client’s dream to relate to their real life. 
  4. Resistance: With further treatment, clients become aware of their unconscious thoughts and become scared, often experiencing resistance. 
  5. Transference: Transference occurs when the clients begin to project their feelings onto the therapist.
  6. Working Through: Final Stage: therapists help clients work through their issues. 

Behaviour Therapy 

Behavioural therapists largely focus on present behaviour and thoughts and only consider the past to understand the origin. They postulate that the emotions and behavioural distress in a client arise due to their faulty behavioural and thought patterns. 

In order to treat a client, they evaluate factors such as symptoms of the client, and their clinical diagnosis in order to select what techniques would be beneficial. The foundational basis of behaviour therapy rests on 

i) dysfunctional behaviour

ii) factors reinforcing faulty behaviours

iii) methods to change faulty behaviours 

Behavior therapists believe that behaviour changes due to principles of learning such as classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning. They use behavioural assessment techniques in order to identify the origins of a client’s issues and decide on specific treatments. Therapists can employ a range of techniques such as desensitization and reinforcement to change the behaviours of the client. 

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, commonly known as CBT is one of the most popular forms of therapy. It is used by many clinical psychologists in order to help their clients who are suffering from mental disorders. It’s a combination of cognitive and behavioural techniques and operates on a bio-psycho-social approach, i.e considers all factors of a client in order to effectively treat them. CBT’s effectiveness has established it to be a short and efficacious treatment for mental disorders.

The basis behind CBT is that a client’s mental stress has origins in biological, psychological, and social factors. Hence it aims to comprehensively address all three through relaxation procedures and behavioural and cognitive therapeutic procedures.  CBT involves helping people in identifying the cause and then bringing about change in their damaging and troublesome behaviour. It encourages people to bring about a positive change in their lives by motivating them to practice and build new sets of skills, by setting attainable goals for the future, by improving their problem-solving skills, and much more. This type of therapy helps everyone be a better version of themselves, even if they are not suffering from a mental disorder.

CBT is an extremely useful tool for managing emotional and behavioural problems. It can be applied to psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, phobias, and traumatic and stress-related disorders. obsessive-compulsive disorders and more.

Basic Steps of CBT:

  1. Identifying the emotional or behavioural problems in your life: can include major life changes, daily hassles, and medical conditions. 
  2. Awareness of emotions and beliefs about your problems: You will become more aware of your feelings about yourself, any event that may have occurred, or another person. 
  3. Identifying Negative Thinking: Through CBT your therapist can help you identify your irrational thoughts and thinking patterns.
  4. Revising Negative Thinking: You will be able to evaluate your views and thoughts with your therapist and revise your irrational thinking.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is the combination of mindfulness and meditation practices along with cognitive therapy. Mindfulness has a spectrum of practices we can employ to calm our racing thoughts and relieve our stress. For example, meditation and journaling are proven methods to lower stress levels, improve cognition and clear up anxiety. This coupled with proven cognitive therapy solutions brings about a positive change in our lives. Clinical Psychologists use this to treat disorders such as depression, insomnia, and ADHD. 

Biomedical and Alternative Therapies

Outside of the major types of therapies encompassing psychodynamic, psychoanalytical, behavioral, and cognitive-behavioral, there are other practiced therapies such as biomedical and alternative forms of therapy. 

Biomedical therapy uses medication or medical treatments to treat psychological disorders. It is essentially a physiological intervention that relies on three major treatment methods including drugs, (also known as pharmacotherapy)  electroconvulsive therapies (ECT, which refers to a type of therapy employing electrical currents to the brain), and psycho-surgeries. 

Numerous alternative therapies have been employed as alternative treatments to psychotherapies or drugs. These can include yoga,  various types of meditation such as zen, mantra, breath awareness, herbal remedies, acupuncture, and other relaxation procedures. 
Wondering what exactly therapy is? What benefits you can get from it, or what more to expect out of therapy? Want to start taking steps to improve your well-being? Click here to sign up!

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