Types of Therapy

Therapists use various types of therapy modalities and approaches to meet the unique challenges and circumstances their clients are facing. Here is a list of some of these modalities and explanations of each!

Type of Therapy Description
Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)
Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy views emotional crises as an opportunity for personal transformational growth. The therapist provides a safe and nurturing relationship as the client works to identify and process their emotions, creating space to uncover their inner resources and strengths that promote healing.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) focuses on accepting and embracing life’s challenges, rather than attempting to eliminate difficult feelings. In ACT, clients learn mindfulness skills and strategies to live life in a way that reflects their core values and goals.
Art Therapy
Art therapy is an interactive therapy approach in which clients use water colors, color pencils, and other art supplies to explore their feelings and reduce anxiety. The goal is not to produce a masterpiece, but rather to learn from the process of creation. Most therapists include art therapy as an adjunct to traditional talk therapy.
Biofeedback is a technique used to control the psychological functions in the body that are often involuntary. During a biofeedback session, sensors connected to the client’s body monitor physiological rhythms, such as heart rate or skin temperature. The feedback from the sensors helps the client to develop increased awareness of their body and understand the body’s response as they try different relaxation skills or other relevant interventions led by the therapist.
Brainspotting is a form of trauma treatment that aims to help clients access and overcome painful past memories. The therapist analyzes the client's eye positions to identify and process emotional and body-based sources of pain.
Breathwork is the practice of utilizing breathing exercises to increase mindful self-awareness. A breathwork therapist guides the client through a meditative experience using breathing techniques, expanding conscious awareness, and promoting physical, emotional, and spiritual health and healing.
Career counseling Career counseling is a type of career guidance designed to help you navigate career decisions at any stage of life. Whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time, switching professions mid-career, or need help making a career-related decision at any point, a career counselor can provide guidance and a host of options.
Chairwork is a technique used by the therapist to give clients the opportunity to process their thoughts and feelings. The therapist provides an empty chair in which an imagined person or part of the self is seated. The client then engages with the imagined scenario to bring awareness to their thoughts and feelings and work through conflicts towards acceptance and healing.
Child-parent psychotherapy
Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) is an intervention for children 0-5 years old who have experienced a scary or traumatic event resulting in changes to the child’s behavior or emotions in a way that is concerning to the family. The focus of healing lies in the power and strength of the parent-child relationship. The therapist works with the parent and child as they learn to understand, support, and communicate in loving and healing ways.
Client-centered therapy
Client-centered therapy, also known as person-centered therapy, gives the client a leadership role in the process of self-discovery. Self-acceptance and healing are promoted by the therapeutic relationship based on unconditional positive regard and the shared goal of understanding the client’s unique experiences, goals, and solutions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a skill-based treatment that focuses on the interconnection of one’s thoughts, behaviors, and emotional experiences. The therapist teaches techniques to examine and reduce unhelpful thoughts and implement new ways behaving outside of the sessions that result in desired emotional and behavioral outcomes.
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (or CBT-I) is the top recommended treatment for insomnia by the American College of Physicians. In CBT-I, your therapist will screen and analyze your sleep habits, develop a treatment plan tailored to your particular experience of insomnia, and help you build specific skills to reduce both existing symptoms of insomnia and anxiety around sleep.
Core Energetics
Core Energetics utilizes conversation and body-based awareness to explore one’s energy and consciousness. Clients engage in the process of self-discovery, transformation, and healing by improving energy flows between the mind, body, and spirit. Clients learn how to redirect negative energy or energy blockages to allow for creative self-expression and connection with the world around them.
Couples counseling Couples counseling is a form of therapy in which a therapist works with couples on whatever issues or concerns are relevant in their relationships. Couples counseling can use a variety of therapeutic modalities, which may include elements of psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and mindfulness therapy, among others. Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT) is also a common modality for couples counseling.
Dance Movement Therapy (DMT)
Dance Movement Therapy uses movement to promote mental and physical health and well-being. The therapist works with the client or a group of clients to promote wellness through a wide range of activities from ordinary movement behaviors to expressive dance.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a skill-based treatment that values both self-acceptance and change. The therapist validates the client’s experiences while teaching mindfulness, relationship, communication skills, and techniques to manage overwhelming emotions.
Emotional Freedom Technique & Tapping
Emotional Freedom Techniques (also known as "EFT" or "Tapping") uses the gentle tapping of fingers on acupressure meridians, resolving energy imbalances to promote physical and emotional healing. The therapist coaches the client to develop mind and body awareness, helpful thought strategies, and self-tapping sequences that support one’s natural healing process.
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy
Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy is a research-based structured approach that helps couples to reduce stress and conflict and foster a secure and loving bond. The therapist helps clients to identify and understand their emotions, communicate their needs to one another, and practice change strategies and techniques for strengthening a loving and supportive connection.
Equine-assisted therapy
Equine-assisted therapy offers clients the unique opportunity to process emotions and experience empathy and healing through interaction with a horse. Therapists using this technique are often equine specialists as well trained mental health professionals.
Existential Therapy
Existential therapy emphasizes universal aspects of the human condition and how one makes meaning in their life. The therapist promotes the client’s self awareness through exploration of life experiences and choices with the goal of achieving psychological balance and freedom.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a cognitive behavioral therapy that helps people reduce anxiety by gradually facing their fears. The client learns to identify triggers, obsessive thoughts, and unhelpful coping strategies such as compulsions, rituals, or avoidance. The client then begins facing their fears while refraining from any of the unhelpful coping strategies. Anxiety gradually subsides in response to increased exposure to the trigger.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
EMDR is a trauma treatment that helps process distressing memories and restore the brain's natural healing abilities. In addition to other therapeutic techniques, the therapist leads the client in a series of lateral eye movements while focusing on a difficult memory, reducing any overwhelming feelings connected to past experiences, and allowing for emotional healing.
Family Systems therapy
Family systems theory views the family as a powerful emotional unit comprised of complex interactions that impact the wellbeing of the family members. The therapist helps family members understand patterns of interaction and behavior within the family, as well as developing new ways of engaging that are beneficial for all family members.
Functional Medicine
Functional medicine is a client-centered holistic approach that looks at disease as a complex result of genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors. Client and practitioner work together to identify and understand the root cause of the client’s health problems and implement targeted interventions to promote health and wellbeing.
Gestalt therapy
Gestalt therapy focuses on achieving personal growth and freedom by increasing self-awareness in present moment experiences. The therapist engages the client in conversations and exercises that bring awareness to their thoughts, emotions, and movements in real time, increasing the client’s understanding and acceptance of their inner-self.
Hakomi therapy
Hakomi therapy is a body- centered approach that utilizes mindfulness and the mind-body connection to increase awareness and connection with core beliefs. The therapist provides a loving presence, a healing relationship, and a safe space for self-exploration and deep self-understanding.
Holistic therapy
Holistic therapy views the mind, body, and spirit as interdependent components of the whole-person. With the help of a holistic therapist, clients develop increased awareness and acceptance of the whole self, promoting balance and well-being.
Humanistic therapy
Humanistic therapy encourages clients to connect with their innate potential to choose and maintain healthy relationships and meaningful life experiences. The therapist asks open-ended questions in an accepting environment, supporting the connection of inner wisdom and self-determination.
Hypnosis is a highly focused state of consciousness in which people are able to experience the world in a different way. In hypnotherapy, the therapist guides the client into state of hypnosis, inviting the client to hold specific expectations and felt experiences related to their current health and healing goals.
Internal Family Systems (IFS)
Internal Family Systems (IFS) increases self-awareness by exploring the different sub-personalities or “parts” of the mind and nurturing and deepening the connection to the self. The therapist and client work together to understand, engage, and reduce destructive parts of the mind, allowing clients to enjoy the peace and freedom of leading a self-directed life.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a time-limited psychotherapy that focuses on relieving emotional suffering by improving the client’s relationships and strengthening social supports. The therapist helps the client utilize their strengths to nurture and maintain positive and meaningful relationships.
Jungian therapy
Jungian therapy utilizes in-depth exploration of the self and the mind to better understand sources of suffering and pathways to healing. The therapist works in collaboration with the client to explore unconscious elements of the mind and alleviate psychic suffering through balance of unconscious and conscious awareness.
Life coaching Life coaching, or wellness coaching, is a process designed to equip you with the tools, motivation, and inspiration to maximize your personal and professional potential. Life coaches are typically sought out to help with specific projects, goals, or transitions.
Marriage counseling Marriage counseling is therapy for couples in committed relationships. The couple meets with a therapist, often once a week for several weeks or months, to address relationship challenges, navigate difficult conversations, and identify useful communication and problem solving techniques.
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) illuminates thought patterns that take hold during depressive episodes and teaches mindfulness skills to alleviate emotional pain. The therapist supports the client as they notice how thought patterns have an impact on their emotional experience and teaches mindfulness techniques to maintain emotional health and wellness.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teaches a type of meditation called mindfulness, a proven way to reduce stress and emotional suffering. The therapist guides clients as they explore the connection between mind and body through the teaching and practice of meditation, dialogue, and mindful yoga and movement. Through mindfulness practice, clients are able to connect with their inner resources for coping, growing, and healing.
Mindfulness practices
Mindfulness-informed therapy integrates present moment awareness as a tool that allows people to disengage from mental preoccupations and difficult emotions. The therapist teaches the practice of present moment awareness through non-judgmental observation of the mind and body.
Motivational interviewing
Motivational Interviewing is person-centered counseling style that utilizes collaborative conversation with a focus on the client’s own goals and motivations, typically specific to substance misuse or other behavioral challenges. The therapist helps the client explore their goals, next steps, and reasons for change within an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.
Multicultural therapy
Multicultural therapy is an approach that values the many roles of culture in shaping how people experience and understand life. Often used in conjunction with other therapeutic techniques, the therapist maintains a tone of openness and empathy with regard to each person’s unique cultural identities and experiences.
Narrative therapy
Narrative therapy vies the client as the expert in their own life, and offers the opportunity to examine the meaning clients make of their life experiences. As the client guides the conversation to areas of interest, the therapist supports them to explore, expand, and deepen their understanding of themselves.
Non-directive play therapy
Non-directive or child-centered play therapy, children express themselves through play: their natural process for expression, development, and growth. The therapist creates a safe and nonjudgmental place for the child to engage in play, following the child’s lead and supporting the child’s natural tendency towards healing and wellness.
Pastoral counseling
Pastoral counseling offers a blend of traditional psychotherapy with spiritual or theological resources from a faith based perspective. Pastoral counselors have training in both religious or theological studies and psychological knowledge, and offer a spiritually integrated approach to promoting health and healing.
Positive psychotherapy
Positive psychotherapy provides relief from emotional pain by increasing focus on the positive aspects of life and relationships. The therapist helps the client to notice their strengths, skills, and natural desire for growth and wellness through conversation and self-reflection.
Premarital counseling Premarital counseling helps partners in a relationship understand each others’ values, traditions, and goals going into a marriage. It provides a safe, neutral environment to empower partners to build skills to work out differences and provides them the tools they need to build a strong foundation.
Psychoanalytic therapy or psychoanalysis
Psychoanalytic therapy is an in-depth talk-therapy based on uncovering and understanding how the unconscious mind impacts a client’s thoughts and behaviors. Providing a safe and non-judgmental environment, the therapist meets with clients frequently and over a long period of time, gradually facilitating the process of uncovering repressed memories, experiences, and emotions and increasing awareness of the effects of the unconscious mind on current life and relationships.
Psychodynamic therapy
Psychodynamic therapy is based on Freud’s psychoanalytic theory that thoughts and behaviors are influenced by our unconscious mind and past experiences. Through collaborative conversation, clients deepen their awareness and understanding of the unconscious mind. Unlike traditional psychoanalysis, therapists often meet with clients once weekly over several months rather than several years.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a cognitive therapy with behavioral components that takes a practical approach to changing unhelpful thought and behavior patterns. The therapist helps the client to identify and challenge irrational beliefs and replace them with more realistic and helpful thoughts that promote the client’s ability to achieve their goals.
Reiki is a form of energy healing that promotes stress reduction and relaxation. The therapist places their hand lightly on or above the client’s body to transmit universal life energy and promote the client’s own healing process.
Sand tray therapy
Sand tray therapy is a technique that utilizes imaginary play to promote self-awareness, growth, and healing. The therapist provides lifelike miniature toys and a sand tray where clients can create meaningful scenes that represent their inner experience.
Schema therapy
Schema therapy is a cognitive and behavioral approach that views emotional suffering as the result of learned ways of coping based on past life experiences which no longer meets the client's core emotional needs. The therapist supports the client to identify and replace unhelpful or negative thoughts and behaviors with healthy patterns of living.
Sensorimotor Therapy
Sensorimotor therapy integrates awareness of the body in addition to the processing of thoughts and feelings related to difficult or traumatic experiences. The therapist helps the client to notice physical sensations in the body and utilizes techniques to regulate and calm the body as a foundation for further healing from past experiences.
Sex therapy Sex therapy is a specific branch of psychotherapy devoted to supporting well-being around sex and sexual satisfaction. It is a specialized way of treating sexual concerns from a psychological perspective, including addressing any mental health conditions that may relate to or arise from these concerns.
Solution focused therapy
Solution Focused Therapy is a guided conversational approach that helps individuals to understand and achieve their solutions to reduce suffering. The therapist and client work collaboratively to break down next steps towards the client’s goals using the skills and strengths the client already possesses.
Sports psychology Sports psychology is a specific branch of psychology devoted to supporting the well-being and optimal performance of athletes. Some definitions also include systemic issues surrounding sports teams and organizations, as well as services for coaches, parents of athletes, and others who are deeply involved in sports culture.
Strength-based therapy
Through strength-based therapy, the positive aspects of a person’s character are highlighted rather than one’s problems or weaknesses. The therapist helps the client to build and maintain resilience through exploration of pre-existing strengths and inner resources.
Supportive therapy
Supportive psychotherapy reinforces a patient’s ability to cope with life stressors and challenges. The therapist provides the client the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts as well as consider their own hopes, goals, and next steps towards healing and wellbeing.
Therapeutic journaling
Therapeutic journaling incorporates the use of writing prompts and exercises to deepen self-awareness, provide an outlet for self-expression, and support the client’s journey towards their goals.
Transpersonal Therapy
Transpersonal therapy utilizes a holistic approach to personal growth with particular attention to a healthy spirit in the process of healing. The therapist utilizes creative and mindful techniques to facilitate an honest, open-minded, present, and authentic relationship with the client in service to co-creating a shared consciousness where true growth and healing can take place.
Trauma-Focused CBT
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence-based and time-limited therapy designed for children and adolescents experiencing emotional effects of trauma. The therapist helps the client and their family to understand their experience and symptoms as well as strengthen skills and supports to promote the healing process.
Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)
The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) method is an evidence-based process that guides people to develop their own plan to achieve and maintain mental health and wellness. The program aids individuals in caring for their own mental health by creating a wellness toolbox, designing a daily maintenance plan, and identifying triggers, often specific to substance use or other difficult behaviors.
Yoga uses specific postures, breathing practices, and meditation techniques to promote health and relaxation. A therapist trained in yoga and psychotherapy will work with the client to tailor the yoga practice to enhance and support the health and healing process.