Types of psychotherapy
Understanding mental health

Types of psychotherapy

An introduction to the different types of psychotherapy

White Swan Foundation

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy uses scientifically tested procedures to help a person manage their thoughts and feelings, and develop healthier coping mechanisms. It offers a supportive, non-judgmental environment for them to be able to speak openly about their problems, share how they’re feeling, and helps them change unhealthy thought and behavior patterns. 

Behavior therapy: Behavior therapy uses a structured approach to help the person improve their behavioral patterns and respond to situations in more adaptive ways. It focuses on helping them understand their thoughts and behavior, identify negative patterns and replace them with positive ones. 

Cognitive therapy: Cognitive therapy aims at correcting inaccurate beliefs and thoughts that are the result of emotions such as anger, sadness and anxiety. It uses principles of learning like rewards and punishments to distinguish between emotions and thoughts, which in turn lead to actions.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a short-term, structured, goal-oriented form of psychotherapy that combines cognitive and behavior therapy. It aims to change the person’s attitude and behavior by changing patterns of thoughts, emotions and beliefs. Read more about CBT

Interpersonal therapy (IPT): IPT is a structured form of therapy that focuses on helping the person improve their interpersonal relationships. Treatment includes working on problems related to grief or bereavement, role dispute and role transition.

Psychodynamic therapy: Also known as insight-oriented therapy, it focuses on unconscious thought processes that manifest in a person's behavior. It aims to help the person gain self-awareness and insight into how their past events influence their present behavior. 

Family therapy: In family therapy, the therapist evaluates the relationships and past events that have caused emotional problems, and identifies patterns of dysfunctional communication within the family. The family is then taught how to listen with empathy, ask questions, and respond in a rational way without getting angry or defensive. Read more about family therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT is a modified form of behavior therapy. It aims to help a person live a life worth living  by teaching them how to self-regulate their emotions. It encourages them to solve their problems; it focuses on imparting skills training for them to effectively cope with issues. Read more about DBT.

Mentalization-based therapy (MBT): MBT is a form of talk therapy where the therapist helps the client to validate their thoughts and feelings; see events from different perspectives; and  identify non-mentalizing modes for example, thinking in extremes (always, never, only). Read more about MBT

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White Swan Foundation
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