The Best Type of Therapy For You: How Do You Choose?

By Tatenda

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Last Updated: September 21, 2022

Coming to the final decision to go for therapy is a big thing.

It is a big step towards dealing with whatever you want to deal with, and being in a better mental state. 

After this decision comes the next step, choosing a therapist. When looking for a therapist, chances are high that you will scroll through platforms such as Psychology Today to browse through your options. You will notice that most therapists write the type of therapy they offer in their bios. 

Oftentimes, this can be confusing, especially if you don’t know what is what, and the purpose of the different types of therapy. 

The paradox of choice kicks in, and figuring out what is the best type for you becomes daunting. In some cases, they all seem similar, but then you wonder why they have different names. 

Well, they have different names because they address issues differently. It is important to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve in therapy, as that will help you decide the best type of therapy for you. 

While I can’t do much to help you with the first part, which is clarifying the purpose of therapy for you, I can surely help you understand the different types of therapy so that you can make an informed decision when choosing a therapist. 

 

 

Five Common Types of Therapy

1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

This is probably one of the most common types of therapy, and it is widely known as CTB.

It focuses on understanding the connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. 

Therapists that conduct CBT help their clients recognize their thought patterns and how these influence behavior. After recognition, the therapist will help clients replace negative thoughts and perceptions with positive and more constructive ones which will in turn, change the behavior. 

CBT does not focus on dealing with things in the past, rather the focus is on present thoughts and behaviors. It is widely used to treat a wide range of mental conditions such as:

  • different types of addiction
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • personality
  • eating disorders

 

2. Interpersonal therapy 

Interpersonal therapy, also known as IPT focuses on improving the client’s interpersonal and social relationships to alleviate the problematic symptoms and distress. 

This is done through achieving four main goals. 

  • Enhancing social support: This is done by addressing interpersonal conflicts that could be resulting in social isolation. 
  • Decreasing interpersonal stress: This could involve managing unresolved grief over the loss of a loved one.
  • Facilitating emotional processing. This refers to help dealing with emotional transitions such as divorce/break up, change of career, or moving to a different city/country. 
  • Improving interpersonal skills in the form of learning skills that allow one to deal with interpersonal conflicts that might be encountered with family, friends or colleagues. 

Just like CBT above, it focuses on the present. But again, unlike CBT, it focuses on interpersonal relationships rather than thoughts. However, it does not necessarily ignore internal conflicts, it just does not focus on them. 

It is largely used for clients dealing with mood disorders. But, it is also effectively used for treating eating disorders, perinatal depression, and addiction.

 

3. Humanistic Therapy

Also known as Humanism, this form of therapy focuses on helping clients understand how their worldview impacts the choices they make.

The focus is on helping the client understand the importance of being their true self, as that is the first step towards living a more fulfilling life. 

Humanistic therapy focuses on all aspects of an individual, including their sense of purpose and well-being. 

Humanistic therapy can be effective in addressing self-esteem issues, schizophrenia, relationship issues, substance use disorders, difficulties in coping and depression. 

 

4. Psychodynamic Therapy

This form of therapy focuses on how conflicts buried in the unconscious influence how people feel and the symptoms they experience. 

Therapists that use psychodynamic therapy help the client resolve any existing conflicts from the client’s past. Addressing these conflicts will eliminate unwanted and often negative thoughts and reduce symptoms of conditions like depression and anxiety. 

It is effectively used for a wide range of psychological disorders such as:

  • panic
  • personality
  • eating disorders
  • addictions
  • social anxiety
  • PTSD

 

5. Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy 

When you hear or read Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), think of cognitive therapy that is infused with mindfulness practices such as awareness of the present moment, meditation and breathing exercises. 

It helps the client stay in the present and shun negative thoughts regarding the past and the future. 

This form of therapy has proven effective in clients dealing with major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorders and bipolar disorders. It has also been used to improve the general wellness of individuals suffering from conditions like brain injuries and chronic pain. 

 

 

How Do You Know Which Therapy is Best For You

Even with this knowledge, it can still be difficult to figure out what option is best for you. The beauty of therapy is that different types of therapy can equally and effectively achieve the desired results. 

Just because I didn’t list the issue you want to deal with on the list of conditions that are widely addressed by the above-mentioned therapies should not be a deal breaker. The listed conditions are a drop in a sea of issues that a therapist can help you deal with using a particular type of therapy. 

In addition to the therapy type, there are more factors that influence the outcome of therapy. However, the relationship or connection you create with a therapist is one of the biggest predictors of the effectiveness of therapy. 

Most therapists happily do consultations so that both the client and the therapist can see if they are a ‘fit’.

Gladly go on as many of these as you can and do some comparing. This will help you pick a therapist who is able to help you deal with the issue you want to address using a therapy you are comfortable with. It will also help you choose a therapist whom you have a ‘connection’ with. 

Do not let the many therapy modalities distract you, your therapist will be able to pick a type that works for you!

Photo by SHVETS production

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5 comments on “The Best Type of Therapy For You: How Do You Choose?”

  1. I am an 82 year old female. I have been widowed twice. I cannot find a therapist for an appointment nor can I find one online. They say they aren’t taking new patients. I have several things and feelings I cannot seem to sort. I substitute in elementary schools as a paraprofessional and love my jobs. I miss having a man in my life. I was blessed with two wonderful husbands. I don’t know where else to search.

    1. Hi Carole, we're sorry to hear that you're having trouble finding support. Ginny gave some great advice, and here are some more resources you could look into. You could also try online therapy or counseling if you are having a hard time finding someone in person. From what I've read, and heard from some of my psychologist friends, the demand for therapy has skyrocketed since COVID, but also just with the world finally talking more about mental health issues, and how we don't have to be ashamed of asking for help. You could also try these resources to find a therapist: BetterHelp.com, PsychologyToday.com, , GoodTherapy.org, American Psychological Association TherapyTribe.com. We are wishing you luck.

  2. I don’t like being single or living alone. I read, watch TV, play puzzle and word games on my tablet. I read before going to sleep. Most of my close friends have passed. One of my four daughters text me that she hates me and will never forgive me. I had several ligitiment reasons why I couldn’t make the long drive and couldn’t afford a hotel. She already had overnight guests. My grandson had no problem with it. She didn’t even call me when her stepfather if 37 years passed away. She sent a short text.

  3. Carole - Go to TelaDoc. You can apply with Medicare/Medicaid. Go to Mental Health. There are many therapists to choose from. My friend found a dermatologist this way. She needed help signing on but once she did she could sign up for an appointment. It is so wonderful to work in the school with the kids! I’m sorry you lost your husbands. So wonderful that you had good relationships. Sorry your daughter is being so unkind. Best wishes to you. You’re doing the right steps to feel better.

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