6 types of psychological therapies and their characteristics

It is important that patients know that there are different types of psychological therapies so that they can choose with which professional they want to be accompanied in their process.

Last update: August 28, 2021

Not all psychologists work in the same way. This, which seems to be an obvious truth, is not. Many people do not know the existence of the different types of psychological therapies that exist or their approach.

Just as there are different problems, we also have different ways of tackling them. Sometimes a type of psychological therapy does not work for us for a certain situation.

What is psychological therapy?

Psychological therapy consists of diagnosis, treatment, resolution and prevention of mental health problems that involve both the emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects. Psychology is a discipline with full scientific endorsement that makes use of a multiplicity of knowledge.

Psychological therapy is not only aimed at solving problems, but also at avoiding their chronicity and repetition. It also has a positive mental health promotion orientation.

On the other hand, it is important to mention that many times the therapist has a greater inclination for a certain type of therapy, but this does not mean that I stop using techniques from other approaches. What is involved is the instrument or technique at the service of the patient.

Psychological therapy offers numerous benefits:

  • It allows self-knowledge.
  • Facilitates the expression and management of emotions.
  • It commits the person in the search and maintenance of their well-being.
  • It promotes the development of resources and personal skills, both to face a particular problem and to manage life in general.
  • Increases patients' confidence in their ability to solve problems on their own.
Mental health professionals use a variety of approaches to address problems.

6 types of psychological therapies

Next, we mention the most popular types of psychological therapies. This does not mean that they are the only options.

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a Active, directive, structured and time-limited procedure. Its starting point is that a person's behavior is related to the way they structure and interpret their world (cognitions).

These cognitions are formed and consolidated from experience. So the proposal consists of identifying which are the distortions or cognitive biases that the person has, to try to change and replace them.

2. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT in English) is a proposal that synthesizes the contributions of cognitive therapy together with the benefits of mindfulness. The main objective is focus attention on the present moment, here and now, identifying and recognizing bodily sensations.

3. Systemic therapy

Systemic therapy arises from the hand of family therapy, focusing their interest on patterns of interaction, communication and relational styles. However, its application is not limited to the family or couple environment, but also works with individual patients.

One of its main characteristics is that it thinks of the person regarding, so it moves from the single place of introspection to attend to the context data. Among its main references we find Watzlawick, Minuchin and Selvini-Palazzoli.

4. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and commitment therapy emerges as a third generation therapy. This considers that symptoms are not people's main problemBut the way they relate to your discomfort.

For this reason, ACT therapy seeks to intervene in the way in which we relate to negative emotions and thoughts, working from acceptance. It proposes strategies that tend towards flexibility, since rigidity is the main obstacle for people in achieving their goals.

In this regard, the ACT also works to clarify what the interests and values ​​of the person are. It seeks to guide and accompany the actions around these values.

5. Psychoanalytic therapy

The pioneer in psychoanalysis was Sigmund Freud. From him arose some reworkings of his theory.

Roughly, the principles they share have to do with the analysis of the unconscious, where unresolved conflicts and everything that the person represses are housed. Psychoanalysis is interested in the interpretation of dreams and failed acts.

Employ the technique of free association and catharsis. Consider that as long as the person expresses himself in a unconscious, You will be manifesting your real conflict.

6. Gestalt therapy

This therapy arises from the hand of Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Goodman, among others. Generally speaking, it focuses on the here and now.

It is an approach that seeks that the person becomes aware of their interests and needs. That it is recognized as responsible for its conduct.

It also aims to become aware that a person is a totality and that it is structured around polarities. Many times, one of the parties is silenced or avoided by the patient, out of fear or blockage. One of the goals is for you to learn to link with both poles. That is, it seeks integration.

Although we speak of 6 approaches, there are many more within the various types of psychological therapies.

Why is it important to go to psychological therapy?

Although going to therapy is an increasingly frequent health practice, it is true that myths or prejudices still exist around it. It is important to work to banish them, since it is a question of well-being and quality of life.

Then, it must be recognized that this is not a mere conversationRather, those who practice psychology have theoretical and practical training. Professionals use various techniques to help the patient.

The importance of feeling comfortable in therapy

It is important to bear in mind that psychological therapy takes place within the framework of a bond that is established between the patient and the therapist. Therefore, feeling comfortable is key.

We do not always like the first psychologist we go to or we do not always achieve that climate of trust that we need. In that case, rather than giving up on therapy, much less on your own mental health, it will be better to try another professional.

Finally, it should also be mentioned that, beyond the methods or techniques used being different according to the types of psychological therapies, all professionals are committed to the well-being of their patients. They work from acceptance, listening and empathy.