All therapy clients bring different challenges, situations, strengths, identities, personalities, and preferences to their first sessions. There is vast diversity when it comes to why people begin therapy, which is met by an expansive range of therapy treatment approaches.
There are hundreds of evidence-based therapy types, and many more which are rooted in spirituality, mysticism, or theory. Therapy types range from ancient modalities like ecotherapy to cutting-edge neuroscientific treatment options like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. While most therapy types can offer some benefit to clients, finding the therapy approach that’s right for you is important in reaching your overall mental health potential. What’s right for you might depend on your presenting symptoms, your therapy goals, or how you like to work with your therapist, and can also evolve over the course of your therapy treatment.
Not all therapists are trained to offer all therapy types. Some therapists specialize in one or two specific therapy modalities, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or the Gottman Method. Others will bring together a blend of approaches that is unique to you, your relationship with the therapist, and the moment you are in together. When looking for a therapist, be sure to find a therapist that is credentialed in offering the therapy modality you’re looking for. To learn more about what therapy type might be right for you, read about different approaches below.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a skill-based treatment that focuses on the interconnection of one’s thoughts, behaviors, and emotional experiences. The therapist teaches techniques to examine and reduce unhelpful thoughts and implement new ways behaving outside of the sessions that result in desired emotional and behavioral outcomes.
Psychodynamic therapy is based on Freud’s psychoanalytic theory that thoughts and behaviors are influenced by our unconscious mind and past experiences. Through collaborative conversation, clients deepen their awareness and understanding of the unconscious mind. Unlike traditional psychoanalysis, therapists often meet with clients once weekly over several months rather than several years.
Couples counseling is a form of therapy in which a therapist works with couples on whatever issues or concerns are relevant in their relationships.
Mindfulness-informed therapy integrates present moment awareness as a tool that allows people to disengage from mental preoccupations and difficult emotions. The therapist teaches the practice of present moment awareness through non-judgmental observation of the mind and body.
Psychoanalytic therapy (or psychoanalysis) is an in-depth talk-therapy based on uncovering and understanding how the unconscious mind impacts a client’s thoughts and behaviors.
Sex therapy is a specialized way of treating concerns around sex and sexual satisfaction from a psychological perspective, including addressing any mental health conditions that may relate to or arise from these concerns.
Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy views emotional crises as an opportunity for personal transformational growth. The therapist provides a safe and nurturing relationship as the client works to identify and process their emotions, creating space to uncover their inner resources and strengths that promote healing.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is a therapy modality that uses smooth eye movements to activate the part of the brain that processes memories. Therapists direct the client through a series of eye movements while asking them to picture the resolution to any issues in their daily lives. By putting any imagined barriers or feelings of discomfort in the past, clients find that it’s easier to take steps towards this resolution.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) focuses on accepting and embracing life’s challenges, rather than attempting to eliminate difficult feelings. In ACT, clients learn mindfulness skills and strategies to live life in a way that reflects their core values and goals.
Adlerian Psychology teaches clients how to become aware about the health of their thoughts, particularly judgements of the self. Alderian psychology posits that all humans are social creatures and that we’re programmed to feel connected to one another, though sometimes we lack the confidence to grow these relationships. Adlerian therapists help clients think through their social interactions, assess their health, and make changes to bring people closer together.
Animal Assisted Play Therapy (AAPT) draws together the comfort that animals bring to humans and the innate pleasures of play to support clients, particularly children, in managing their emotions. Therapists create an environment that is playful yet introspective to open up discussions about feelings and emotions.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a therapy modality most commonly used with clients on the autism spectrum. Therapists work one-one-one with clients to learn and understand the unique features of the client’s autism. They then harness this knowledge to help clients integrate into routines of daily life.
Art therapy is an interactive therapy approach in which clients use water colors, color pencils, and other art supplies to explore their feelings and reduce anxiety. The goal is not to produce a masterpiece, but rather to learn from the process of creation. Most therapists include art therapy as an adjunct to traditional talk therapy.
Attachment Based Therapy is a therapy modality where therapists educate clients on attachment theory and help them apply the theory to their own lives. Therapists guide clients through the examination of their relationship patterns and teach them ways to develop more secure attachment to their loved ones.
Biofeedback is a technique used to control the psychological functions in the body that are often involuntary. During a biofeedback session, sensors connected to the client’s body monitor physiological rhythms, such as heart rate or skin temperature. The feedback from the sensors helps the client to develop increased awareness of their body and understand the body’s response as they try different relaxation skills or other relevant interventions led by the therapist.
Brainspotting is a form of trauma treatment that aims to help clients access and overcome painful past memories. The therapist analyzes the client's eye positions to identify and process emotional and body-based sources of pain.
Breathwork is the practice of utilizing breathing exercises to increase mindful self-awareness. A breathwork therapist guides the client through a meditative experience using breathing techniques, expanding conscious awareness, and promoting physical, emotional, and spiritual health and healing.
Buddhist philosophy can be utilized in therapy through the integration of Buddhist concepts and themes such as the cause of suffering, religion, and hope for the future. Mindfulness and meditation may also be commonly used, and therapists’ personal practice of Buddhism may also influence the therapeutic work.
Career counseling is designed to help you navigate career decisions at any stage of life. Whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time, switching professions mid-career, or need help making a career-related decision, a career counselor can provide guidance and a host of options.
Chairwork is a technique used by the therapist to give clients the opportunity to process their thoughts and feelings. The therapist provides an empty chair in which an imagined person or part of the self is seated. The client then engages with the imagined scenario to bring awareness to their thoughts and feelings and work through conflicts towards acceptance and healing.
Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is an intervention for children 0-5 years old who have experienced a scary or traumatic event resulting in changes to the child’s behavior or emotions in a way that is concerning to the family. The focus of healing lies in the power and strength of the parent-child relationship. The therapist works with the parent and child as they learn to understand, support, and communicate in loving and healing ways.
Christian Counseling brings together mental health therapy with Christian ideology and culture. Therapists who specialize in Christian counseling may use faith concepts to support their clients and empower them to make sense of their emotions.
In client-centered therapy, also known as person-centered therapy, the client takes a leadership role in the process of self-discovery. Self-acceptance and healing are promoted by the therapeutic relationship based on unconditional positive regard and the shared goal of understanding the client’s unique experiences, goals, and solutions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-Insomnia (CBT-I) is a specialized form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for clients who suffer from insomnia. Like in CBT, clients will become more aware of the impact that their thoughts and beliefs have on their emotions and their behaviors. Therapists help these clients better understand their internalized thoughts about sleep and encourage them to make healthy changes so they can get the rest they need.
A type of trauma-focused psychotherapy that seeks to challenge and modify individuals' beliefs related to trauma. It helps individuals identify upsetting thoughts and empowers them with skills to address their thoughts in a healthier way.
Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) is a therapy modalities that emphasizes the importance of practicing self-compassion and self-love. Clients learn how to feel confident in themselves and to show themselves grace along their mental health journeys.
Core Energetics utilizes conversation and body-based awareness to explore one’s energy and consciousness. Clients engage in the process of self-discovery, transformation, and healing by improving energy flows between the mind, body, and spirit. Clients learn how to redirect negative energy or energy blockages to allow for creative self-expression and connection with the world around them.
Dance Movement Therapy uses movement to promote mental and physical health and well-being. The therapist works with the client or a group of clients to promote wellness through a wide range of activities from ordinary movement behaviors to expressive dance.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a skill-based treatment that values both self-acceptance and change. The therapist validates the client’s experiences while teaching mindfulness, relationship, communication skills, and techniques to manage overwhelming emotions.
Drama therapy is an embodied practice that is active and experiential. This approach can provide the context for participants to tell their stories, set goals and solve problems, express feelings, or achieve catharsis. Through drama, the depth and breadth of inner experience can be actively explored and interpersonal relationship skills can be enhanced.
Dreamwork is a type of therapy where therapists help clients explore their unconscious through the medium of dreams. Therapists guide their clients through meaning-making of the content of their dreams, which often sheds light on the client’s inner thoughts, beliefs, and desires.
Eclectic Therapy describes a combination of many different therapy modalities to support a client. Therapists blend together several ways of supporting clients based on the client’s personality, goals, and motivation.
Ecotherapy sessions are often held outside in nature. Therapists harness the innate relaxing effect that nature has on humans to help them in their mental health journeys. This could include walking in nature, mediating in nature, or even gardening together.
Emotional Support Animal Certification describes the certification of animals who provide their owners with the emotional support needed to manage distress. Therapists who provide this certification also provide support to the client.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy is a research-based structured approach that helps couples to reduce stress and conflict and foster a secure and loving bond. The therapist helps clients to identify and understand their emotions, communicate their needs to one another, and practice change strategies and techniques for strengthening a loving and supportive connection.
Enhanced Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT-E) is a version of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that focuses on clients who suffer from eating disorders. Like CBT, CBT-E teaches clients how to become aware of their thoughts and how their thoughts impact their feelings and behaviors. By addressing thought patterns, therapists work together with clients to address the harmful eating behaviors.
Equine-assisted therapy offers clients the unique opportunity to process emotions and experience empathy and healing through interaction with a horse. Therapists using this technique are often equine specialists as well trained mental health professionals.
Working with clients to learn skills to better plan and organize, sustain attention, complete tasks, and manage emotions.
Existential therapy emphasizes universal aspects of the human condition and how one makes meaning in their life. The therapist promotes the client’s self awareness through exploration of life experiences and choices with the goal of achieving psychological balance and freedom.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a cognitive behavioral therapy that helps people reduce anxiety by gradually facing their fears. The client learns to identify triggers, obsessive thoughts, and unhelpful coping strategies such as compulsions, rituals, or avoidance. The client then begins facing their fears while refraining from any of the unhelpful coping strategies. Anxiety gradually subsides in response to increased exposure to the trigger.
EMDR is a trauma treatment that helps process distressing memories and restore the brain's natural healing abilities. In addition to other therapeutic techniques, the therapist leads the client in a series of lateral eye movements while focusing on a difficult memory, reducing any overwhelming feelings connected to past experiences, and allowing for emotional healing.
Family systems theory views the family as a powerful emotional unit comprised of complex interactions that impact the wellbeing of the family members. The therapist helps family members understand patterns of interaction and behavior within the family, as well as developing new ways of engaging that are beneficial for all family members.
Family Therapy describes a wide range of therapy modalities that help families become closer together. The therapist will work with the whole family unit – and often with individual members – on healthy communication skills, boundary-setting, and bonding activities.
Feminist Therapy stems from the understanding that women and other oppressed groups experience poor mental health as a reaction to an unfair system. Feminist therapists will help their clients explore their identities and the way that these identities show up in daily life. They also empower their clients to feel confident, powerful, and fulfilled.
Functional medicine is a client-centered holistic approach that looks at disease as a complex result of genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors.Client and practitioner work together to identify and understand the root cause of the client’s health problems and implement targeted interventions to promote health and wellbeing.
Gestalt therapy focuses on achieving personal growth and freedom by increasing self-awareness in present moment experiences. The therapist engages the client in conversations and exercises that bring awareness to their thoughts, emotions, and movements in real time, increasing the client’s understanding and acceptance of their inner-self.
A branch of couples counseling designed to help couples foster closeness, manage conflict in a constructive manner, and create shared meaning in their relationship.
Habit reversal therapy increase awareness of how and when urges such as tics, hair pulling, nail biting, thumb sucking, and skin picking develop, helping clients learn to intervene and make a change, such as replacing the habit with an alternative behavior.
Hakomi therapy is a body- centered approachthat utilizes mindfulness and the mind-body connection to increase awareness and connection with core beliefs. The therapist provides a loving presence, a healing relationship, and a safe space for self-exploration and deep self-understanding.
Health At Every Size is a non-diet approach to wellness that aims to strengthen an individual's relationship to food by reducing the focus on weight. It promotes balanced eating while maintaining respect for the natural diversity of body shapes and sizes.
Holistic therapy views the mind, body, and spirit as interdependent components of the whole-person. With the help of a holistic therapist, clients develop increased awareness and acceptance of the whole self, promoting balance and well-being.
Through mindful self-awareness and thoughtful action, clients connect with their innate potential to choose and maintain healthy relationships and meaningful life experiences. The therapist asks open-ended questions in an accepting environment, supporting the connection of inner wisdom and self-determination.
Hypnosis is a highly focused state of consciousness in which people are able to experience the world in a different way. In hypnotherapy, the therapist guides the client into state of hypnosis, inviting the client to hold specific expectations and felt experiences related to their current health and healing goals.
Relationship and couples therapy that focuses on transforming conflict into healing and growth through relational connection
Infertility counseling supports couples through the often stressful experience of infertility for both individuals and couples. It incorporates elements of couples counseling to help couples through any strains in relationships between partners.
Integrative Therapy describes a combination of several different therapy modalities to meet the needs of a specific client. Because all clients have different needs, personalities, and preferences, integrative therapy allows the therapist to work without modality boundaries and instead integrate several for the benefit of the client.
Internal Family Systems (IFS) increases self-awareness by exploring the different sub-personalities or “parts” of the mind and nurturing and deepening the connection to the self. The therapist and client work together to understand, engage, and reduce destructive parts of the mind, allowing clients to enjoy the peace and freedom of leading a self-directed life.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a time-limited psychotherapy that focuses on relieving emotional suffering by improving the client’s relationships and strengthening social supports. The therapist helps the client utilize their strengths to nurture and maintain positive and meaningful relationships.
Intuitive Eating describes the eating behavior movement that relies on the body’s signals. Intuitive eating therapists teach their clients how to listen to the body’s hunger cues and plan their meals around these cues, rather than the constraints of a three-meal day.
Jungian therapy utilizes in-depth exploration of the self and the mind to better understand sources of suffering and pathways to healing. The therapist works in collaboration with the client to explore unconscious elements of the mind and alleviate psychic suffering through balance of unconscious and conscious awareness.
Life coaching, or wellness coaching, is a process designed to equip you with the tools, motivation, and inspiration to maximize your personal and professional potential.
Therapy for couples in committed relationships, designed to help partners address relationship challenges, navigate difficult conversations, and identify useful communication and problem-solving techniques.
Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is a therapy modality that emphasizes the role that mindfulness has on growing self-compassion. Clients use mindfulness practices to learn more about themselves and situate themselves within their minds and bodies. This leads to an increase of self-compassion, so clients can show themselves grace while going along their mental health journey.
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) illuminates thought patterns that take hold during depressive episodes and teaches mindfulness skills to alleviate emotional pain. The therapist supports the client as they notice how thought patterns have an impact on their emotional experience and teaches mindfulness techniques to maintain emotional health and wellness.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teaches a type of meditation called mindfulness, a proven way to reduce stress and emotional suffering. The therapist guides clients as they explore the connection between mind and body through the teaching and practice of meditation, dialogue, and mindful yoga and movement. Through mindfulness practice, clients are able to connect with their inner resources for coping, growing, and healing.
Motivational Interviewing is person-centered counseling style that utilizes collaborative conversation with a focus on the client’s own goals and motivations, typically specific to substance misuse or other behavioral challenges. The therapist helps the client explore their goals, next steps, and reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.
Multicultural therapy considers the role cultural, ethnic, and racial identities have in the unique experience of the client and the therapeutic process of healing. A multicultural therapist brings a diverse cultural knowledge and curiosity as well as a sensitivity to the history of oppression and the politics of power. The therapist offers an empathetic space to explore cultural identity and how this relates to the client’s process of healing and wellbeing.
Focuses on using music, songs, and dialogue to promote growth and change.
Viewing the client as the expert in their own life, narrative therapy offers the opportunity to examine the meaning clients make of their life experiences. As the client guides the conversation to areas of interest, the therapist supports them to explore, expand, and deepen their understanding of themselves.
In non-directive or child-centered play therapy, children express themselves through play: their natural process for expression, development, and growth. The therapist creates a safe and nonjudgmental place for the child to engage in play, following the child’s lead and supporting the child’s natural tendency towards healing and wellness.
Object Relations Therapy developed out of object relations theory, which posits that individuals develop an understanding of the world in their infancy. Using this understanding, therapists can help their clients make sense of their present-day emotional reactions.
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is a therapy modality most commonly used between parents and children as a way to grow their relationships and address emotional distress or problematic behaviors. Therapists facilitate interactions between parents and their children and provide helpful guidance on how to become more understanding of one another.
Pastoral counseling offers a blend of traditional psychotherapy with spiritual or theological resources from a faith based perspective. Pastoral counselors have training in both religious or theological studies and psychological knowledge, and offer a spiritually integrated approach to promoting health and healing.
Polyvagal Theory adds another dimension to the well-established “flight-or-flight” response. By including the brain’s polyvagal system, therapists teach clients about the biological instinct to be social with other humans - but only when feeling safe enough to do so. Therapists then work with their clients to establish safety in social situations so they can activate this brain system and feel connected to others.
Positive psychotherapy provides relief from emotional pain by increasing focus on the positive aspects of life and relationships. The therapist helps the client to notice their strengths, skills, and natural desire for growth and wellness through conversation and self-reflection.
Premarital counseling helps partners in a relationship understand each others’ values, traditions, and goals going into a marriage.
Prolonged Exposure (PE) is a therapy modality most used with clients who previously experienced traumatic events. The therapist provides psychoeducation around trauma or fear responses, as well as teaches clients relaxation or calming tools. The therapist then will facilitate either a physical or imaginary exposure to the stressor and guides them through those relaxation tools.
Provides evaluations and ongoing management for psychiatric medications
Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) is a specialized couples therapy modality that teaches couples how to pay attention to physical and emotional cues when in conflict. Therapists teach clients how to work through the heart of the issue, which may be different than what the fight is about.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a cognitive therapy with behavioral components that takes a practical approach to changing unhelpful thought and behavior patterns. The therapist helps the client to identify and challenge irrational beliefs and replace them with more realistic and helpful thoughts that promote the client’s ability to achieve their goals.
Reiki is a form of energy healing that promotes stress reduction and relaxation. The therapist places their hand lightly on or above the client’s body to transmit universal life energy and promote the client’s own healing process.
Relational therapy (or relational-cultural therapy) helps clients recognize the role of relationships in their well-being. Clients identify and explore how they interact with others, with the goal being to develop new ideas about relationships.
Sand tray therapy is a technique that utilizes imaginary play to promote self-awareness, growth, and healing. The therapist provides lifelike miniature toys and a sand tray where clients can create meaningful scenes that represent their inner experience.
Schema therapy is a cognitive and behavioral approach that views emotional suffering as the result of learned ways of coping based on past life experiences which no longer meets the client's core emotional needs. The therapist supports the client to identify and replace unhelpful or negative thoughts and behaviors with healthy patterns of living.
Sensorimotor therapy integrates awareness of the body in addition to the processing of thoughts and feelings related to difficult or traumatic experiences. The therapist helps the client to notice physical sensations in the body and utilizes techniques to regulate and calm the body as a foundation for further healing from past experiences.
Solution Focused Therapy is a guided conversational approach that helps individuals to understand and achieve their solutions to reduce suffering. The therapist and client work collaboratively to break down next steps towards the client’s goals using the skills and strengths the client already possesses.
Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a therapy modality most commonly used with clients who previously experienced traumatic events. The therapist facilitates activation of the client’s trauma response and then teaches the client how to notice how the trauma shows up in their bodies. The therapist then works with the client to cope with their emotional responses, including through the use of relaxation skills.
Incorporates the narrative aspect of therapy with observing each individual's body movements; by becoming attuned to the body, one can learn to sense and disrupt habitual patterns and move forward in a calmer manner
Sports psychology is a specific branch of psychology devoted to supporting the well-being and optimal performance of athletes.
Through strength-based therapy, the positive aspects of a person’s character are highlighted rather than one’s problems or weaknesses. The therapist helps the client to build and maintain resilience through exploration of pre-existing strengths and inner resources.
Supportive psychotherapy reinforces a patient’s ability to cope with life stressors and challenges. The therapist provides the client the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts as well as consider their own hopes, goals, and next steps towards healing and wellbeing.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (also known as "EFT" or "Tapping") uses the gentle tapping of fingers on acupressure meridians, resolving energy imbalances to promote physical and emotional healing. The therapist coaches the client to develop mind and body awareness, helpful thought strategies, and self-tapping sequences that support one’s natural healing process.
TEAM-CBT describes an evidence-based and regimented approach to the delivery of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a therapy modality that emphasizes the connection between thoughts, feelings, and actions. The therapist delivering TEAM-CBT will determine the most appropriate pathway in therapy sessions for each unique client based on their motivation and response to a wide variety of therapy techniques.
Therapeutic journaling incorporates the use of writing prompts and exercises to deepen self-awareness, provide an outlet for self-expression, and support the client’s journey towards their goals.
Transference Focused Psychotherapy brings the client’s focus inside the therapy session. Therapists who practice transference-focused psychotherapy ask the client to reflect on the therapeutic relationship throughout the session, using the therapeutic relationship as a model for other relationships. This way, the therapist can guide the client through any barriers to connection they may have or address any judgements or assumptions.
Transpersonal therapy utilizes a holistic approach to personal growth with particular attention to a healthy spirit in the process of healing. The therapist utilizes creative and mindful techniques to facilitate an honest, open-minded, present, and authentic relationship with the client in service to co-creating a shared consciousness where true growth and healing can take place.
Trauma Resiliency Model teaches clients about the biological response to trauma. Clients also learn about resilience and how they can better tap into their innate resilience to cope with their trauma reactions.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence-based and time-limited therapy designed for children and adolescents experiencing emotional effects of trauma. The therapist helps the client and their family to understand their experience and symptoms as well as strengthen skills and supports to promote the healing process.
The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) method is an evidence-based process that guides people to develop their own plan to achieve and maintain mental health and wellness. The program aids individuals in caring for their own mental health by creating a wellness toolbox, designing a daily maintenance plan, and identifying triggers, often specific to substance use or other difficult behaviors.
The use of specific postures, breathing practices, and meditation techniques to promote health and relaxation. A therapist trained in yoga and psychotherapy will work with the client to tailor the yoga practice to enhance and support the health and healing process.