Traditional therapy or “talk therapy” is often referred to as “psychotherapy”. This type of work takes a “top down” approach to treatment and focuses on identifying and changing maladaptive thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
Humanistic therapy, also known as humanism, is a form of talk therapy that focuses on a person’s individual nature, rather than assuming that groups of people with similar characteristics have the same concerns. Humanistic therapists aim to consider the whole person, especially their positive characteristics and potential for growth, not only from their professional viewpoint but from a client’s own personal sense of their behavior. The emphasis in sessions is on a person’s positive traits and behaviors and developing their ability to use their instincts to find wisdom, growth, healing, and fulfillment.
Psychodynamic therapy is an in-depth form of talk therapy based on the theories and principles of psychoanalysis (developed by Sigmund Freud). This form of therapy believes talking about problems in a therapeutic setting can be extremely valuable for the individual. Individuals who have the capacity to be self-reflective and are looking to obtain insight into themselves and their behavior are best suited to this type of therapy.
Gestalt therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that helps clients focus on the present to understand what is actually happening in their lives at this moment, and how it makes them feel in the moment, rather than what they may assume to be happening based on past experience. The gestalt philosophy rejects the notion that any one particular trait, episode, or diagnosis could define a person. Instead, their total self must be explored, discovered, and confronted.
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a time-limited, focused, evidence-based approach to treat mood disorders. The main goal of IPT is to improve the quality of a client’s interpersonal relationships and social functioning to help reduce their distress. IPT provides strategies to resolve problems within four key areas. The practice differs from cognitive and behavioral therapy approaches because it addresses maladaptive thoughts and behaviors only as they apply to interpersonal relationships. IPT aims to change relationship patterns rather than the associated depressive symptoms, as well as target relationship difficulties that exacerbate these symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a form of psychological treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness.
CBT is based on several core principles, including:
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking.
- Psychological problems are based, in part, on learned patterns of unhelpful behavior.
- People suffering from psychological problems can learn better ways of coping with them, thereby relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives.
CBT treatment also usually involves efforts to change behavioral pattern such as:
- Facing one’s fears instead of avoiding them.
- Using role playing to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others.
- Learning to calm one’s mind and relax one’s body.