Different Types Of Therapy: A Primer

"What do therapists DO?"

This is sadly one of the hardest questions for me to answer. Because the answer depends entirely on why you're seeing them. That's also one of the reasons I have the most interesting job on earth: no two days are alike. My day can begin with a client who has a debilitating phobia, include a married couple on the brink of divorce, and end with a combat veteran struggling with PTSD. How could anyone get bored?!

In my personal opinion, the needs of a client should greatly influece WHICH form of therapy you utilize. After all, will a person with a phobia have the same needs as the married couple for therapy? Will their goals look the same? Likely not.

But enough about me, I decided that I wanted to create a sort of "primer" on different types of therapy- because in my mind an educated consumer is a better consumer... And knowledge is power.... And several other cliches. What I'm trying to say is: I hope you can use this list to begin to educate yourself about therapy, and what methods most closely align with your personal belief system. I also hope you can use it to find a therapist who is a good match for you. (I personally utitilize all these philosophies in my therapy with clients).

So without further fuss, here is my "Ridiculously OverSimplified List Of Popular Therapy Methods"*

Cognitive- The belief that if you change your thoughts, you change your life. Focus is on ending destructive thought patterns and employing healthy ones.

Behavioral- The belief that our behavior is shaped by reward and punishment. Focus is on ending destructive behaviors and begining healthy ones.

Attachment Oriented- The belief that our attachments (both bad and good) to primary caretakers as a child, now influences our current relationships (for bad and good). Focus is on relearning healthy attachment.

Multigenerational- The belief that our relationships and behavior are influenced by what we learned from our own family growing up. Focus is on increasing awareness of what we learned, and relearning healthy forms of relating.

Experiential- The belief that change takes place in the here and now, and emotional expression and awareness is the vehicle. Focus is on active therapy, employing the use of the client's immediate emotions and experience.

Psychoanalytic- Freud is most famous here: the belief that unconcious thoughts and motivations cause mental illness. Focus is on making the unconcious, concious.

Psychodynamic- The belief that our past emotional experiences shape our current interactions with people. Focus is on self-awareness, employing the use of emotions and communication.

Structural- The belief that relationship trouble is caused when we become rigid and repetitive and lose adaptability. Focus is on identifying areas of rigidity and making them flexible.

Strategic- The belief that all behavior (both healthy and not) is motivated by power and control. Focus is on restructuring the power balance in a relationship.

*My disclaimer: Psychology Students- do NOT use this to study for exams, it is but one person's opinion (and you can be certain that I have missed important points!) Fellow health professionals- I beg in advance for your forgiveness if you feel I butchered or left out your modality of choice,  see above. Thank you :)

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