The Different Psychotherapy Approaches

By Team Felicity
Tue Mar 09 2021

If you have evaluated seeing a counsellor, for sure you would have had many misgivings and doubts- How exactly will they help my cause by talking to me? Can I not just talk to a friend? Only if it was that simple. Can someone really talk me out of being sad? I don’t need more words and views; I need a solution to my woes. 

It is human to be wary of what we do not understand. So, let us try to understand a bit more. Counselling is not just free flowing chit-chat or venting out. It involves well established psychotherapy techniques that these professionals are trained on, for years. There are many schools of thoughts that they are trained on. Some rely on one and others use a combination. 

Every approach is goal oriented to seeks to improve self-awareness and perspective of an individual. The goal is to help you arrive at a solution to your problems and not hand you down the solution. 

Psychotherapy is an umbrella term used to describe different types of therapeutic approaches used by mental health practitioners. 

Here is any insight into some, not all, of the fancy terms that you would have heard  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy that focuses on the link between our thoughts (cognition) & our actions (behavior). It is intended to help people change thought patterns that cause unhealthy, unproductive, or incapacitating behavior. CBT is based on the premise that thoughts are a lever to manage behavior. Hence by changing thoughts, one can change behavior. The focus is on uncovering unruly negative thoughts and their source so that they can be obliterated, and positive thoughts can be reinforced. CBT is one of the most commonly used forms of psychotherapy. It is the go-to approach for most psychologists.

Psychodynamic therapy 

This therapeutic approach focuses on how certain life events and relationships, both past & present, affect a person’s current feelings, relationships, and choices. Psychodynamic therapy gets to the very edifice of our psychological existence. It tries to uncover the unconscious and the subconscious. The goal is to help one acknowledge and understand negative feelings & repressed emotions so that they can resolve internal psychological conflicts. A great deal of trust and understanding needs to exist between the patient and the therapist for psychodynamic therapy.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)

DBT is based on the concept of dialectics. The essence of dialectics is that everything is composed of opposites and that change occurs when there is a "dialogue" between opposing forces. Accepting the contradictions eases internal conflicts. The patient learns how to label emotions, handle angry feelings & navigate conflict without giving into impulsive tendencies. A form of CBT, it aims to give people the skills to regulate their emotions, handle stress in a healthy manner, improve relationships, & live mindfully.

Humanistic/Experiential: Gestalt therapy

Gestalt therapy centres on “here and now” feelings & experiences rather than one’s perception of the root causes of those feelings. A therapist working with Gestalt does not deep dive into the past but stays anchored on the present moment. She tries to focus on how the patient contextualises and makes sense of things and listens to the client’s point of view with empathy, warmth, respect, & non-judgment. 

Humanistic/Experiential: Client-centered therapy

A “non-directive” form of therapy, it does not guide a patient towards any particular direction or outcome but creates a supportive environment for her as she investigates her identity, feelings, or emotions. The patient is made to explore feelings through creative & experiential techniques, such as guided re-enactments, role-playing, exaggerated movement, & other exercises. Under the skilled auspices of the therapist, she begins to identify and release the negative emotions associated with particular situations. 

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) 

REBT is an action-oriented approach that is based on the premise that it is how people view a particular situation, and not the situation itself, that leads to psychological distress. Its goal is to help a patient reframe how she thinks about a situation & hence her irrational beliefs around it. REBT focuses more on acceptance than the others & uses techniques like humour to change one’s perception.

This is not an exhaustive list. The list of approaches used by therapists is long.

Some bring in dream interpretation or music or art therapy into their work. Others incorporate hypnotherapy, life coaching, meditation, visualization, or role-playing exercises to “rehearse” challenging conversations.

Some rely on a single technique & some use a combination.

What is important is that you trust your therapist. Book a session with Felicity today and let go of your emotional troubles. 


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