Modes & Types of Therapy

The modes and types of mental health care are as varied as the individuals who seek therapeutic support. While there are some therapeutic models that are more popular than others, and some may boast of higher success rates than others, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to mental health care. Nuances in the types and modes of therapy will support different people in different ways. Ultimately, the primary factors that will impact the effectiveness of any psychotherapy session include individual commitment and willingness to invest in the introduced system. Understanding and analyzing the pros and cons of the different types of therapy early on can eliminate what all too often becomes a trial-and-error stage, where one may try on different types of therapy only to realize it isn’t for you.

Modes of Therapy

Pop-culture often represents a singular mode of therapy: the image of a therapist and client, one-on-one. Frequently this image is supported by classical Freudian tropes, including a couch for the client to lay down on or a therapist in an oversized chair with a notebook, nodding along in the background. This singular image of what therapy is what prevents many people from realizing the level of options available via the varied modes of therapy.

Depending on the context of the situation in which an individual or group of individuals are seeking therapeutic support, there are several different modes of therapy that ought to be considered. The primary modes of therapy include individual therapy, group therapy, and couples therapy. There is also school counseling, which happens at the primary, secondary and collegiate level. School counseling is typically the first introduction to a therapeutic environment, offering students an opportunity to discuss challenges at school and at home with a counselor from a very young age.

Therapy Modes

  • Pastoral Counseling
  • Premarital Counseling
  • Psychiatry
  • Residential Treatment
  • School Counseling
  • Sex Therapy
  • Social Work

The different modes of therapy are not interchangeable. What works in one context does not necessarily fit into another context. Group therapy is typically recommended in situations where an individual would benefit from ongoing support. This is often associated with situations where an individual is overcoming a challenge, and may benefit from being around others who are in a similar situation. It is common to see support groups for those who have recently lost a loved one, for individuals overcoming a personal trauma like an illness, and for veterans who have returned home from combat. Group therapy is not a setting in which an individual can discuss issues one on one with a mental health counselor. Sometimes, group therapy is recommended as an add-on to individual therapy.

Couples therapy is similar to group therapy in that multiple people ae present during the therapeutic session, but the entire group (often two people) are seeking support together. While couples therapy is most commonly thought of as a means for marriage or relationship counseling, this mode of therapy is not limited to romantic couples. Parents and children, roommates, even co-workers can benefit from couples therapy in the appropriate context.

Individual therapy is the most common mode of therapy, but even within this singular branch there are seemingly endless options regarding what the therapy session will entail.

Types of Therapy

Therapy has been available as a resource throughout human history, but only in recent years has the therapeutic model been looked at with the sort of respect and dignity typically reserved for the medical community.

  • Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Adlerian Psychology / Psychotherapy
  • Anger Management
  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Art Therapy
  • Attachment-Based Family Therapy
  • Authentic Movement
  • Autogenic Training
  • Aversion Therapy
  • Animal Assisted Psychotherapy
  • Behaviorism
  • Bibliotherapy
  • Bioenergetic Analysis
  • Biofeedback
  • Body Psychotherapy
  • Body-Mind Psychotherapy
  • BodyTalk System
  • Brainspotting
  • Breathwork
  • Clean Language, Symbolic, Modeling and the Metaphor Therapy
  • Client-Directed Outcome-Informed Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy
  • Coherence Therapy / Depth-Oriented Brief Therapy
  • Collaborative Couple Therapy
  • Collaborative Therapy
  • Compassion-Focused Therapy
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
  • Conflict Resolution Therapy
  • Constructivism
  • Contemplative Psychotherapy
  • Continuum
  • Control Mastery Theory
  • Core Energetics
  • Core Process Psychotherapy
  • Critical Incident Stress Management
  • Dance / Movement Therapy
  • Depth Hypnosis
  • Depth Therapy
  • Developmental Model of Couples Therapy
  • Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Drama Therapy
  • Dream Analysis
  • Dreamwork
  • Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy
  • Ecotherapy / Nature Therapy
  • Ego State Therapy
  • Emotion-Focused Therapy
  • Emotional Freedom Technique
  • Emotional Transformation Therapy (ETT)
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy©
  • Encounter-Centered Couples Therapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Equine and Animal-Assisted Psychotherapies
  • Existential Psychotherapy
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Expressive Arts Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
  • Family Attachment Narrative Therapy
  • Family Constellations
  • Family Systems Therapy
  • Feldenkrais Method
  • Feminist Therapy
  • Filial Therapy
  • Focalizing
  • Focusing
  • Gestalt Therapy
  • Gottman Method
  • Guided Therapeutic Imagery
  • Hakomi Experiential Psychotherapy
  • Healing Touch
  • Holistic Psychotherapy
  • Holographic Memory Resolution
  • Holotropic Breathwork
  • Human Givens
  • Humanistic Psychology
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Imago Relationship Therapy
  • Integral Psychotherapy
  • Integrative Body Psychotherapy
  • Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy
  • Internal Family Systems
  • Interpersonal Neurobiology
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy
  • InterPlay
  • Journal Therapy
  • Journey Therapy
  • Jungian Psychotherapy
  • Lifespan Integration©
  • Logotherapy
  • Middendorf Breath Experience
  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy
  • Mindfulness-Based Interventions
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • Movie Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Narrative Therapy
  • Neuro-Linguistic Programming
  • Neurofeedback
  • Neuropsychology
  • Nonviolent Communication
  • Object Relations
  • Parent Work
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
  • Person-Centered Therapy (Rogerian Therapy)
  • Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor
  • Play Therapy
  • Poetry Therapy
  • Positive Psychology
  • Positive Psychotherapy
  • Possibility Therapy
  • Pragmatic / Experiential Therapy for Couples
  • Process Oriented Psychology
  • Psycho-Physical Therapy
  • Psychoanalysis / Modern Psychoanalysis
  • Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy
  • Psychodrama
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Psychosynthesis
  • Radiant Heart Therapy
  • Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT)
  • Reality Therapy
  • Redecision Therapy
  • Regression Therapy
  • Reichian Breathwork
  • Relational Life Therapy
  • Relational Psychotherapy
  • Relationship Enhancement Therapy
  • Sand Tray Therapy
  • Satir Transformational Systemic Therapy
  • Schema Therapy
  • Self Psychology
  • Self-Acceptance Training
  • Self-Relations Therapy
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy
  • Shamanic Journeying / Psycho Shamanic
  • Solution-Focused Brief Therapy
  • Somatic Experiencing
  • Somatic Psychotherapy
  • Soul-Centered Psychiatry
  • Sport / Fitness Psychology
  • Systems Theory / Therapy
  • Theraplay
  • Thought Field Therapy
  • Time Line Therapy®
  • Transactional Analysis
  • Transpersonal Psychotherapy
  • Trauma Relief Unlimited (TRU)
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Voice Dialogue
  • Voice Therapy
  • Wilderness Therapy
  • Yoga Therapy

Psychotherapy Types

  • Abreaction therapy
  • Accelerated experiential dynamic psychotherapy (AEDP)
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
  • Adlerian therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Analytical psychology
  • Art therapy
  • Attack therapy
  • Attachment-based psychotherapy
  • Attachment-based therapy (children)
  • Attachment therapy
  • Autogenic training
  • Behavioral activation
  • Behavior modification
  • Behavior therapy
  • Biodynamic psychotherapy
  • Bioenergetic analysis
  • Biofeedback
  • Body psychotherapy
  • Brief psychotherapy
  • Classical Adlerian psychotherapy
  • Chess therapy
  • Child psychotherapy
  • Client-centered psychotherapy
  • Co-counselling
  • Cognitive analytic therapy
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Coherence therapy
  • Collaborative therapy
  • Compassion focused therapy (CFT)
  • Concentrative movement therapy
  • Contemplative psychotherapy
  • Contextual therapy
  • Conversational model
  • Conversion therapy
  • Dance therapy or dance movement therapy (DMT)
  • Depth psychology
  • Daseinsanalysis
  • Developmental Needs Meeting Strategy (DNMS)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Drama therapy
  • Dreamwork
  • Dyadic developmental psychotherapy (DDP)
  • Eclectic psychotherapy
  • Ecological counseling
  • Emotionally focused therapy (EFT)
  • Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
  • Encounter groups
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Existential therapy
  • Exposure and response prevention
  • Expressive therapy
  • Family Constellations
  • Family therapy
  • Feminist therapy
  • Focusing
  • Freudian psychotherapy
  • Functional analytic psychotherapy (FAP)
  • Future-oriented therapy
  • Gestalt therapy
  • Gestalt theoretical psychotherapy
  • Group analysis
  • Group therapy
  • Guided affective imagery
  • Hakomi
  • Holotropic Breathwork
  • Holding therapy
  • Humanistic psychology
  • Human Givens
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Inner Relationship Focusing
  • Integrative body psychotherapy
  • Integral psychotherapy
  • Integrative psychotherapy
  • Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy
  • Internal Family Systems Model
  • Interpersonal psychoanalysis
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Jungian psychotherapy
  • Logotherapy
  • Marriage counseling
  • Milieu therapy
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Mentalization-based treatment
  • Method of levels (MOL)
  • Mode deactivation therapy (MDT)
  • Morita therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Multimodal therapy
  • Multitheoretical psychotherapy
  • Music therapy
  • Narrative therapy
  • Nonviolent Communication
  • Nude psychotherapy
  • Object relations psychotherapy
  • Ontological hermeneutics
  • Orthodox psychotherapy
  • Parent–child interaction therapy
  • Parent management training
  • Pastoral counseling
  • Person-centered therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Positive psychology
  • Positive psychotherapy
  • Postural Integration
  • Primal therapy
  • Primal Integration
  • Process oriented psychology
  • Process psychology
  • Progressive counting (PC)
  • Prolonged exposure therapy
  • Provocative therapy
  • Psychedelic therapy
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychodrama
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Psychosynthesis
  • Pulsing
  • Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT)
  • Rational living therapy (RLT)
  • Reality therapy
  • Rebirthing-breathwork
  • Recovered-memory therapy
  • Re-evaluation Counseling
  • Reichian psychotherapy
  • Relational and compassionate psychotherapy
  • Relationship counseling
  • Relational-cultural therapy
  • Remote therapy
  • Rogerian psychotherapy
  • Sandplay therapy
  • Schema therapy
  • Self-relations psychotherapy
  • Sensorimotor psychotherapy
  • Sexual identity therapy
  • Sex therapy
  • Social therapy
  • Solution focused brief therapy
  • Somatic experiencing
  • Somatic psychology
  • Status dynamic psychotherapy
  • Supportive psychotherapy
  • Systematic desensitization
  • Systemic therapy
  • T-groups
  • Therapeutic community
  • Thought Field Therapy
  • Transactional analysis
  • Transference focused psychotherapy
  • Transpersonal psychology
  • Transtheoretical model (TTM or "stages of change")
  • Twelve-step programs
  • Vegetotherapy
  • Wilderness Therapy

There are benefits and potential drawbacks to each of the therapies listed above, and it is typically recommended that prior to making a commitment to any one type of therapy that you do your research and choose a therapy method that is best suited to your expectations and lifestyle needs.

Here is a short breakdown of some of the most common types of therapies:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, often shortened to CBT, is a skill-building therapeutic model that emphasizes personal growth through strategic practice and outcome-oriented behaviors. This form of therapy is traditionally short-term and is problem oriented. The goal of CBT is to help an individual overcome current obstacles with healthy coping strategies and useful tools that they can ultimately practice on their own.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy is another problem-oriented therapeutic model, but in this context emphasis is placed on separating the individual from the problem by encouraging the individual to contextualize their concerns in a way that minimizes the problems overall impact on their day-to-day life. This therapy model encourages the use of existing skillsets, transforming personal problems into personal stories via the use of journaling and discussion.

Person-Centered Therapy

Person-Centered Therapy is also referred to as the Rogerian model, as it is based off of the ideas of Carl Rogers. This form of therapy emphasizes universal positive regard, putting empathy and motivation at the center of the therapeutic relationship.

It is important to recognize that no form of therapy is definitively better than another form of therapy. Instead, the best type of therapy depends on individual circumstances and personal preferences. Naturally, there are several aspects of individual therapy that most therapy types have in common. For example, all individual therapy types feature a one-on-one interaction between a client and therapist. This is most commonly done in person, though there is an increasing presence of online based therapy, which removes part of the personal interaction between the client and therapist, but in doing so can provide more privacy for the individual. Some forms of therapy are more interactive than others. While cognitive behavioral therapy, one of the most common forms of therapy practiced in the United States, involves ongoing skill-building and regular meetings to encourage personal growth, other forms of therapy use more hands-on strategies like art, exercise, or even certain eye movements to encourage optimal mental health.