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Different types of therapy

Check out different options for therapy

Written by Megan Stonecipher and posted in health

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There are many different forms of therapy that are found to be beneficial in helping take control over one's mental health conditions.  Some of the main ones include: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Family Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Art Therapy, and Psychoeducation.  

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

  • The main idea of CBT is the way you think and your beliefs can affect the way you feel, and in turn affect the behaviors that you decide to carry-out.  
  • There are two parts to CBT, which are cognitive and behavioral.
  • The cognitive aspect of CBT focuses on the thoughts that the person seeking treatment has and helps to establish healthy/helpful thoughts and beliefs
  • On the other hand, the behavioral aspect of CBT focuses on establishing healthier and more helpful behaviors in response to the person’s thoughts
  • CBT sessions often last anywhere between 30-60 minutes.  
  • CBT is often used as treatment for depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder, but can be used as a treatment for other mental health conditions as well.  

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

  • The main idea of IPT is to improve personal relationships and to learn how to express emotions in a healthy way.  
  • IPT sessions often last around around an hour.
  • IPT is often used to treat depression, but can also be used to treat bipolar disorder by partaking in a variation of IPT called, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.  

Family Therapy

  • Family therapy is used to help the family of the person with the mental health condition better understand what they are going through and how to help.
  • It helps to establish better communication skills, problem-solving skills, and teaches them how to better handle conflicts.    
  • Family therapy sessions are often around 45-55 minutes.
  • Family therapy is most often used to help treat eating disorders and bipolar disorder.  

Psychodynamic Therapy

  • Psychodynamic therapy helps people better understand their unconscious emotions and motivations, which in turn can help them understand their thoughts, behaviors, and actions.
  • Psychodynamic therapy could take up to two years of sessions to complete.
  • Psychodynamic therapy is mainly used to treat depression, but can also be used to treat anxiety (i.e. panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, so on).   

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

  • DBT focuses on four main concepts: mindfulness (being fully aware in the moment), interpersonal problem-solving (how to deal with interpersonal conflict and ask for what you need), distress tolerance (how to tolerate difficult situations), and emotion regulation (how to tolerate and change emotions).
  • DBT also includes three components: group therapy/skill training sessions, individual psychotherapy sessions, and phone coaching (where clients are able to call their therapists during times difficult times when they need help).
  • DBT is mainly used to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), and can also be used to treat those who are suicidal.  
  • DBT has also been shown effective in treating substance abuse disorder, depression, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Art Therapy

  • Art therapy is a way to express yourself and your emotions through music, dance, or art to improve your mental wellbeing.  
  • Art therapy is typically used to treat depression and anxiety disorders (i.e. panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder), but may be used for other mental health conditions as well.  


  • Psychoeducation is used to help people understand their mental health conditions and learn about possible forms of treatment in order to help with recovery.  
  • The family of the person with the mental health condition can also go through psychoeducation as well, in order to better understand the condition and learn how to further help.
  • Psychoeducation is used for all mental health conditions.

Keep in mind that there are always alternative treatments as well.  For example, medication, yogaexercise, and monitoring one’s diet.  At the end of the day it is always best to talk with your GP and see which type of therapy or alternative treatment would best suit you.  

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Published June 8th, 2017
Last updated December 10th, 2018
Tags mental health counselling therapy
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