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Different Types Of Therapy For Depression, Anxiety & More 2023

Christine VanDoren

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

types of therapy

Anxiety and depression can coexist; each year, about 40 million adults[1] in America suffer from anxiety and depression. While anxiety[2] can be in the form of general anxiety disorder, specific phobias, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, depression can emerge as persistent depressive disorder or major depressive disorder. 

Both conditions are common and threaten your mental health. So, if not treated, they can cause several health complications and ultimately lead to suicide. The most common cause of suicide is untreated or inadequately treated depression.

Fortunately, a common panacea exists for anxiety and depression – therapy. Therefore, this piece will provide valuable information on the types of therapy for anxiety and depression. So, it’s time to dive in!

Different Types of Therapy

  • Psychodynamic therapy 
  • Existential therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Client-centered therapy 
  • Gestalt therapy
  • Eye movement and reprocessing therapy 

What Is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy[3], also known as talk therapy, psychosocial therapy, counseling, or therapy, is a method of treating various psychiatric disorders and emotional challenges. 

It typically involves communicating with a psychologist or mental health expert who will help you understand your mood, behaviors, and thoughts. They will also help you to heal and improve your well-being by teaching you how to recognize triggers and control your emotions to take charge of your life. 

Over time, psychotherapy has been somewhat effective in dealing with eating disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, addictions, personality disorders, and schizophrenia. However, psychotherapy does not treat mental illnesses alone since it can assist people only with combating stressors and resolving conflicts. 

Now, how should you prepare for psychotherapy[4]

The first step is to find a therapist. You can receive a referral from your friend, family member, or doctor, although one from your doctor is–officially–a prescription and will prevent insurance denials. Sometimes, your place of work might provide therapy sessions. 

On the other hand, you can find a therapist online by surfing a professional association’s website. When you find one, it would be best to check their qualifications, including their background, education, licensing, and training. Also, ensure your preferred therapist meets your state’s licensing requirements and certification for their exact discipline. 

Though it could be done during the session, having an idea of such issues beforehand would foster progress since the expert can choose the most suitable approach for you. Having finished preparing, it is time for your first therapy session! What should you expect? 

Generally, therapists hold sessions in groups or individually once a week for about 30 to 50 minutes. 

Either way, your therapist will ask about your life and needs; since psychotherapy is a mental health treatment, you may be required to fill out forms or questionnaires about your past and current emotional and physical health. 

However, the therapist may not fully determine your exact needs in the first session, but subsequent sessions might provide useful insight. 

Nevertheless, you should find out the following in your first session: the kind of therapy that will be used, the duration of each session, the treatment goals, and the number of sessions required. 

Some time ago, Howard, Krause, Kopta, and Orlinsky conducted a study[5] and found that eight therapy sessions improved around 50 percent of patients, while 26 sessions improved 75 percent. 

This shows that people benefit from therapy sessions, but it is not the case with some. So how can you make the most of your sessions?  

First, you should feel comfortable with your therapist and look for another if not. Then, it would help to be honest about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences since the sessions’ success depends on it. 

Next, be faithful to your treatment plan by attending all sessions; it may not be easy, but you must be devoted to ensuring progress. 

Another way to get the most from your therapy is by viewing it as a partnership. Agreements and goal-setting are among the foundations of a successful collaboration. Hence, you and your therapist need to set periodic goals and agree on how to address certain issues. 

During sessions, be open, ask questions, and never be scared to express your emotions. Finally, therapy is not magic, so do not expect instant results, as you may need several sessions before seeing improvements. 

Since therapists are professionals, confidentiality is a work ethic. So, a therapist will not reveal your secrets except in rare cases where they may pose a threat to someone. Several types of psychotherapy exist; your therapist may use anyone to approach your situation.

Types of Psychotherapy

Behavior Therapy

Behavior therapy is an umbrella term for clinical psychotherapy that deploys cognitive psychology or behaviorism techniques. This therapy examines specific behaviors and how the mental state of others or the environment influences them. 

Behavior analysts (or therapists) aim to find objectively measurable treatment outcomes. As implied above, behavior therapy[6] is a broad term; it comprises techniques such as modeling, classroom management, peer intervention, parent training, and cognitive behavior therapy. 

For modeling, your therapist will demonstrate a bold response to an adverse circumstance, and you will reenact what they did to reduce your anxiety levels. 

Meanwhile, classroom management is when your teachers prevent negative behaviors by ensuring you focus on academic work. 

Then, in peer intervention, some of your peers (who must have already been trained on how to promote positive behavior in educational and social settings) may help you address behavioral challenges. 

On the other hand, parent training involves a therapist teaching your parents ways to discourage negative behavior, support positive behavior, and foster a good relationship with you. 

In its implementation, your parents will observe you, set rules to deter negative behavior, and reward positive behavior through positive attention and praise. 

Finally, in cognitive behavioral therapy, your therapist will help you recognize and understand unhealthy thought patterns and their contribution to self-destructive behaviors. After identifying the patterns, your therapist will teach you how to think more positively. 

Cognitive Therapy

Mental health experts use cognitive therapy to understand your thoughts and help you interpret them. It is different from cognitive behavioral therapy since it focuses on the present. 

In other words, an expert using cognitive therapy will most likely pay attention to whatever weighs you down and then teach you how to examine those thoughts and transform them into something more constructive.  

So, you will work with your cognitive therapist to develop techniques[7] for examining and changing beliefs, pinpointing distorted thinking, and changing behaviors. In addition, cognitive therapy can help you with anxiety disorders and depression. 

Humanistic Therapy

Humanistic therapy[8] prioritizes growth, responsibilities, and self-development. It helps you recognize your creativity and strength. So, a humanistic therapist will help you overcome limitations to unlock your full potential. 

The humanistic approaches focus on self-exploration to help you achieve self-awareness and develop a sense of purpose. They include gestalt therapy, existential therapy, person-centered therapy, psychosynthesis, transpersonal psychology, transactional analysis, and solution-focused therapy.

While gestalt therapy helps you to gain self-awareness in the present by focusing on the entirety of your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and actions, existential therapy avoids a technique-based approach and tries to find the meaning of specific issues from a philosophical standpoint instead. 

Then, person-centered therapy (or client-centered counseling) pays attention to your values and self-worth to help you accept your personality and reconnect with yourself. Finally, in psychosynthesis, the therapist aims to help you unearth a deeper level of spiritual consciousness. 

Meanwhile, transpersonal psychology adopts a holistic approach with a focus on spirituality. So, this approach seeks to address your creative, intellectual, social, mental, and physical needs to promote growth and healing. 

Transactional analysis helps you to discover your ego states – child, parent, and adult. Then, after recognizing them, the therapist tries to identify how you communicate and ways to change it. 

Finally, solution-focused therapy, or solution-focused brief therapy, identifies what you want to achieve instead of historical challenges. So, the therapist will ask questions to uncover your resources and strengths. 

Generally, humanistic therapy is valuable to people with panic disorders, addiction, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, depression, and schizophrenia. 

Holistic/Integrative Therapy

As the name “holistic” implies, holistic therapy addresses the whole person’s needs instead of specific symptoms. The therapy focuses on your mind, body, spirit, and emotions. 

It is also known as integrative therapy because it uses traditional and modern techniques and other therapies. Holistic therapy comprises cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, etc.

Reflexology involves massaging specific parts of your hands, ears, and feet to relieve tension and stress. 

Meanwhile, in acupuncture, the therapist or expert places needles or pressure (acupressure) into several parts of your body to stimulate your skin’s nerves along a network[9] of acupoints called meridians. 

Then, massage therapy involves using hands to apply pressure and manipulate several body parts to foster healing and overall well-being. 

Finally, holistic or integrative therapy[10] is valuable for people with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and existential crisis. 

Psychoanalysis/Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychodynamic therapy[11] focuses on the basis and formation of psychological processes. It helps in interpreting your emotions and mental processes. 

Hence, the therapy focuses on your relationship with the external world and involves Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic techniques such as free association and dream analysis. 

In the former, the therapist will ask you to share your thoughts or whatever comes to your mind freely; they may give you a prompt. The aim is to identify the issues you had in the past and how they currently influence your behavior. 

Dream analysis involves interpreting the content of your dreams to discover underlying motives and symbolic meaning. 

Besides being among the types of therapy for trauma, psychodynamic therapy can help with social anxiety, borderline personality disorder, and eating disorders. Since there are several kinds of therapy, it would help to know how to select the one you need. 

What Type of Therapy Do I Need? How to Choose

It begins with you. You should identify what you want to change and what is preventing you from making that change. After that, your answer should be able to guide you to the best choice. Likewise, consider seeking a mental health diagnosis to discover your challenges. 

For example, you can choose behavior therapy if you have an eating disorder or an addiction like gambling or substance abuse. 

On the other hand, if you have limitations when trying to complete an activity, you should opt for a suitable kind of occupational therapy. The types of occupation therapy include pediatric occupational therapy, general occupational therapy, occupational therapy for autism, etc. 

Final Thought

The types of therapy for mental health are numerous, including but not limited to the ones mentioned above. But, more importantly, if you have difficulty finding the most suitable kind of therapy, you should contact your doctor! 

+ 11 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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  2. Hanson, J. (2022). Identifying signs of anxiety and depression. [online] Mayo Clinic Health System. Available at: https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/addressing-your-mental-health-by-identifying-the-signs-of-anxiety-and-depression
  3. Psychiatry.org. (2022). Psychiatry.org – What is Psychotherapy? [online] Available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy
  4. Mayoclinic.org. (2016). Psychotherapy – Mayo Clinic. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/psychotherapy/about/pac-20384616
  5. De Geest, R.M. and Meganck, R. (2019). How Do Time Limits Affect Our Psychotherapies? A Literature Review. Psychologica Belgica, [online] 59(1), pp.206–226. doi:10.5334/pb.475.
  6. Regis College Online (2019). What Is Behavior Therapy, and Why Is It Important? [online] Regis College Online. Available at: https://online.regiscollege.edu/blog/define-behavior-therapy/
  7. Archive.org. (2017). Wayback Machine. [online] Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20170107092638/http://chestercountypsychology.com/pdf/Questions%20and%20Answers%20about%20Cognitive%20Therapy%20by%20Judith%20S.%20B.doc
  8. Counselling-directory.org.uk. (2022). Humanistic Therapies – Counselling Directory. [online] Available at: https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/humanistic.html
  9. Lee, S.-H., Kim, C.-E., Lee, I.-S., Jung, W.-M., Kim, H.-G., Jang, H., Kim, S.-J., Lee, H., Park, H.-J. and Chae, Y. (2013). Network Analysis of Acupuncture Points Used in the Treatment of Low Back Pain. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, [online] 2013, pp.1–7. doi:10.1155/2013/402180.
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  11. Goodtherapy.org. (2009). Core Principles of Psychodynamic Therapy Approach. [online] Available at: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/psychodynamic
Christine VanDoren

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her passion is helping others learn how strong and healthy they can become by transforming their daily habits. Christine spends most of her time in the gym, hiking, painting, and learning how she can influence others through positivity!

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

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