Different Styles of Therapy

Different Styles of Therapy

There are many different styles of therapy available to you as a consumer. Every therapist incorporates these theories and ideas in their own manner. This means that five Cognitive therapists could all treat you slightly differently. Many therapists now are called eclectic therapists: this means they use parts of many different theories and use whatever they feel is necessary to help you grow. The information below is intended to give you a better understanding of the main styles of therapy and some background on what may be most helpful for you.  However, they are not hard and fast rules.

Quick Glance Table of the Main Styles of Therapy

(For a brief description of each form of therapy click on the name.)


Style of Therapy

Insight Oriented Short Term Long Term Family Oriented Individually Oriented Most Effective in Changing


YES NO YES NO YES Aspects of your personality and behaviors

Humanistic Therapy

YES YES YES NO YES Aspects of your personality and behaviors

Behavior Therapy

NO YES NO NO YES Specific symptoms/ behaviors, bad habits you want


YES NO YES NO YES Deep seated problems, childhood traumas, unconscious

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

YES YES YES NO YES Specific thought distortions i.e.: phobias, poor

Family Therapy

YES YES YES YES NO Family problems, couples counseling, relationships

Group Therapy

YES YES YES NO YES Poor self-concept, anxiety, depression, stress,
intimacy, etc.

Psychotherapy focuses on your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Psychotherapists will try to work with you to gain insights into your personality, your behaviors, attitudes, relationships, past and present, and to help you to interpret your feelings and behavior to make you more productive, positive and healthy.

Humanistic Therapy emphasizes the need for insight into your thoughts, feelings, and past life, including your childhood and the way you were raised, as a way to bring about changes and growth in your personality. It also emphasizes the unique qualities in yourself and attempts to help you achieve your full potential by removing constraints that may exist within your personality.

Behavior Therapy or Behavior Modification uses the principles of learning theory to help you alter your behaviors. It does not delve into the your thoughts and motives, but it focuses instead on your specific, observable actions. A behavioral therapist will use a system of consequences and rewards in an attempt, especially with children, to help you change your behavior. They do not believe that symptoms are results of deeper
problems from your past.

Psychoanalysis is a long, intense therapy process which occurs 3-5 times a week for approximately 50 minutes/session. You’re encouraged to talk about your dreams, and anything else that comes to mind without
censoring anything in an effort to eliminate anxiety by giving you insight into your unconscious conflicts which affect you behaviors and emotions. The analyst will talk very little but completely listen to everything you say.
Psychoanalysis often lasts for several years.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy stresses the importance of identifying the distortions that often occur in people’s thinking process. Once they are identified, the therapist will then show you how this distortion contributes to their distress and then helps you to think in a different more constructive manner. This therapy does not deal with the unconscious.

Family Therapy believes that the presenting problem is never the true problem; what is presented is only a symptom of the larger problem within the family system. The client, often a child, is viewed only as the identified patient (IP) and the family is really viewed as the client. The purpose is to observe the way family members interact with each other to strengthen the family as a unit so the entire system and each individual becomes healthier. Family therapy also feels it is important for the family to learn how they function in order for them to relate healthier.

Group Therapy is different than any other form of therapy because it involves a group of people who are not related to each other trying to deal with similar issues. Group therapy helps people learn that they are not alone with whatever issue they are dealing with and this way they can get support from the group. Among the many areas group therapy is useful, is improving your relational skills, poor self concept, inability to express or control emotions, anxiety, depression, inability to cope with stress, and difficulties in being intimate with others.