Thinking it might be time to talk to a professional about mental health? Before you do, let’s look at what’s out there. As a consumer, you need to understand what type of therapy your therapist utilizes in order to evaluate whether this is the best type of therapy and practitioner for you. While there are many types of therapy, most of them fall into one of these four types. These are the therapies that will help you on your healing process.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

Looking for a quick fix? Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a commonly used, short-term therapy which usually about 10 – 15 sessions. The therapy focuses on changing cognitions (thoughts) and behaviors (actions). Here, one works on problems that can be changed such as irrational thinking, and unhealthy behaviors like drinking and drugging. The goal is to reduce or extinguish the symptoms of unhealthy behaviors. CBT does not focus on insight into deep-seated core issues. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a related therapy that combines CBT with humanistic and trans-personal therapies.

Psychoanalysis Or Psychodynamic Theory

In this type of therapy, one works to uncover the unconscious processes and core issues in order to heal. The focus is on gaining insight and coping with deep-seated psychological issues. Psychoanalysis is based on the work of Sigmund Freud, who is touted as the “father of psychotherapy.” Modern psychology has revamped this work to make it more user-friendly. This is a longer term therapy, which might span several years.

Humanistic Or Existential Theory

Humanistic therapy focuses on healing through the mind, body, and spirit connection. This theory focuses on acceptance of self, healing techniques, and a positive, warm, accepting relationship with the counselor. In this type of therapy, the counselor and client are more equal in the process. The goals include discovering and utilizing the self-healing abilities of the client.

Existential therapy is a branch of  humanistic theory which focuses on the existential questions of today such as: “Why am I here and what is my purpose in life?” and “What is the meaning of life?” With this work, you are tasked with coping with suffering, despair, loneliness and the responsibility for yourself in dealing with these deep life struggles throughout your life span.

Trans-personal Or Integrative Therapy (psycho-spiritual)

Developed by Ken Wilber, trans-personal therapy is an eclectic practice which embraces all of the three previous therapies. The focus of trans-personal therapy is to “transcend and include.” The patient learns how to integrate all the stages from the human pre-ego (baby), to ego, to beyond the ego. The result is a development of the higher self, a transcendent self. This type of addresses every aspect of being human: the mind, body, spirit, and soul.

In this work, the patient focuses on spiritual, transformative beliefs and practices. Because trans-personal literally means “beyond the personal (ego),”  this practice encompasses explores many dimensions including:

  • Science
  • Philosophy
  • History
  • Religion and spirituality
  • Social work
  • Psychology

Trans-personal therapy employees the following tools, including:

  • Meditation
  • Art and music
  • Dream interpretation
  • Religion,
  • Journaling
  • Tai chi
  • Body work
  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Spirituality

We believe that an eclectic focus (utilizing the techniques that work best for any given client) is the most valuable. In an eclectic focus, the therapist picks various ways to help you instead of just focusing on one therapy. However, please remember that the most important factor in finding a therapist is your connection with that therapist. While techniques are valuable, they aren’t as valuable as the relationship you have with the counselor.

Find therapists and counselors who understand the complicated dynamic that addiction brings to the table at Recovery Guidance.

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Carol Anderson
Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW, is a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience in the fields of mental health, addictions, and co-occurring disorders. Her other specialties include grief and trauma, women’s issues, chronic pain management, holistic healing, GLBTQ concerns, and spirituality and transpersonal psychology. Dr. Anderson has been educated and trained in the fields of education, social work, and spirituality, and she holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (non-denominational/interfaith) specializing in spirituality.

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