What Are the Different Types of Psychotherapy and Which Type Works Best?

You need the right therapist + the right type of psychotherapy to help you overcome your mental health struggles and live a fulfilling life

Therapist | psychotherapy session

What is Therapy?

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, involves speaking with a trained mental health professional to manage and overcome emotional and mental health issues. Psychotherapy can help people address various mental health concerns, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and relationship problems.

Different types of psychotherapy exist with each aiming to address specific mental health issues or grounded in a different philosophy, e.g., medical vs non-medical. Understanding the various types of psychotherapy can help individuals find the right therapist and approach for their specific needs. Here are the different types of psychotherapy and their benefits; start here to compare and choose the right one for your needs:

Different Types of Psychotherapy and Their Benefits

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is designed to help individuals recognize negative thought patterns and behaviors and replace them with positive ones.

CBT treats various mental health conditions like anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD. CBT is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and any change in one of these components can lead to changes in the others. During CBT, individuals work with a therapist to identify negative thought patterns and develop strategies to replace them with more positive, realistic ones.

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of talk therapy that aims to help individuals gain insight into unconscious conflicts contributing to their mental health issues. This type of therapy is often used to address trauma, relationship problems, and self-esteem.

Psychodynamic therapy is based on two broad understandings of what causes psychological distress. The first is that our past experiences, particularly childhood ones, shape our current behavior and emotions. The second is that our minds function in a dynamic and unconscious way that sometimes produces symptoms (e.g. someone might reject feelings of inadequacy by ascribing them to others and proclaiming their own superiority [this causes trouble because it is false]).

During psychodynamic therapy, individuals work with a therapist to explore their unconscious dynamics, memories, experiences, and thoughts and feelings. The aim is to gain insight into how these may affect their current behavior, work through difficult emotions, and find mature and effective approaches to living.

Humanistic therapy

Humanistic therapy is a form of talk therapy that emphasizes personal growth, self-awareness, and the importance of the individual’s experience. This therapy aims to help individuals develop their full potential by gaining insight into themselves and their behavior. Humanistic therapy is based on the idea that we all can make positive changes in our lives and reach our full potential. During humanistic therapy, individuals work with a therapist to explore their emotions and gain a better understanding of themselves and their behavior.

Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy is a form of talk therapy that focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and communication skills to manage mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. This type of therapy is often used to treat individuals struggling with interpersonal conflicts and difficulties. IPT is based on the idea that improving our relationships and communication skills can improve our mental health. During IPT, individuals work with a therapist to identify and address interpersonal problems and develop effective communication skills.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of talk therapy that helps individuals manage intense emotions and develop coping mechanisms for emotional regulation. This therapy often treats individuals with borderline personality disorder, self-harm behaviors, and other mental health conditions. DBT is based on the idea that people can learn new skills to manage their emotions and reduce self-destructive behaviors. During DBT, individuals work with a therapist to learn mindfulness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance skills.

Group therapy

Group therapy involves individuals who share similar mental health concerns and meet regularly to support and learn from each other. Group therapy can treat mental health conditions like addiction, depression, and anxiety. During group therapy, people can share their experiences and learn from others who may be going through the same struggles. The group dynamic can provide a supportive and empathetic environment to facilitate personal growth and healing.

Finding the Right Therapist and Approach

The best psychotherapy type varies from person to person and depends on their specific needs and circumstances. Finding a therapist specializing in the therapy that best suits the individual’s needs is essential.

When looking for a therapist, it is important to consider their qualifications, experience, and areas of expertise. It is also important to consider location, cost, and insurance coverage factors.


Psychotherapy is valuable in treating mental health concerns. By understanding the different types of psychotherapy available, individuals can make informed decisions when seeking mental health treatment. The right therapist and approach can help individuals overcome their mental health struggles and live fulfilling lives.

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Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri has spent the last two decades learning, teaching and writing about wellbeing and mindful living. He has contributed over 1500 articles for several newspapers and magazines including The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Statesman, Mid-Day, Bombay Times, Femina, and more. He is a counseling therapist and the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed best-selling book on self-transformation. An award-winning editor, Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".


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