Going to psychotherapy is one way to take care of your emotional health. And, just like other periodic medical checks, which we do without necessarily having a specific condition, but only to prevent it, psychotherapy sessions are not only aimed at those who want to learn to manage certain psycho-emotional problems but also to those who want to maintain their emotional health, get to know themselves better and perhaps discover new perspectives on themselves and the world. Therefore we have created this article to help you better understand the most known types of psychotherapy.
So, if you need guidance in learning to manage your need for perfection, to discover where your need for emotional eating comes from, or if you simply want to get to know yourself better, psychotherapy sessions I can help in this regard.
Of course, it’s important to know the types of psychotherapy so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. Next, it is essential to find a psychotherapist with whom you feel you resonate and with whom you can build a relationship based on trust.
We offer you a good starting point, by presenting the most well-known types of psychotherapy. Before we talk about these, however, let’s learn something about the situations in which psychotherapy can prove more than beneficial.
When and how psychotherapy can help you
First, it is necessary to understand that the idea that psychotherapy is only for those with certain emotional disorders (such as depression, anxiety, burnout, and compulsive eating) is limiting.
As I said at the beginning, psychotherapy is also indicated for people who want to prevent such disorders, and who want to better understand their emotions and manage them in the healthiest possible ways. Psychotherapy is recommended, among others, to:
- who want to manage their time better and make their time a priority;
- who want to develop personally and professionally;
- who want to improve their level of emotional intelligence;
- who want to authentically embrace their vulnerability.
All these contribute to finding personal balance – therefore psychotherapy is suitable for those who want to be in balance with themselves.
In terms of approach, each type of psychotherapy capitalizes on certain techniques, which you will discover more about below.
Types of psychotherapy
1. Transactional analysis
Transactional analysis is a type of modern psychotherapy, developed by psychiatrist Eric Berne, that looks at a person’s relationships and interactions in order to identify the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that prevent the individual from reaching their full potential.
Thus, transactional analysis emphasizes the potential and value of every human being, who is capable of developing personally and professionally.
In the course of his research, Eric Berne identified three ego roles in transactional analysis: child, parent, and adult. At the same time, he pointed out that each of us can swing between the three roles during our interactions with others.
The three roles/states during our interactions with others
- the child represents the state in which we feel, think, and react instinctively, as we did in the first years of childhood;
- the parent is the state in which we take over, involuntarily and unconsciously, the rules, ideas, and behavioral patterns observed in the parents, also in the first years of life;
- the adult is the state in which we are responsible for rational decision-making, following the analysis and observation of the data collected from the other two states described: child and parent.
What is the importance of these states? If the patient’s inner child went through uncomfortable, traumatic experiences the adult will tend to repeat the same behavioral patterns. An example can be that one of the parents constantly fed his need for perfection. In the absence of real understanding and healthy management of his emotional needs, this can lead to repetition.
Transactional Analysis starts from the premise that each of us has the ability to live the life we want, the way we want, and not to live a “pre-ordained” life, explains the Transactional Analysis article.
Last but not least, this type of psychotherapy is useful for anyone who wants to develop personally and/or professionally, especially since the fundamental idea promoted by Eric Berne is that transactional analysis helps patients to learn to be aware of their own value and potential, essential factors for achieving personal goals.
Clinical hypnosis aims to bring to consciousness the traumas, memories, and experiences lived by the human being in childhood, the period that shapes him the most emotionally (and not only).
Hypnosis uses guided relaxation techniques to help the patient fully focus and direct their attention toward a state of awareness known as trance, explains the article Hypnotherapy.
It is important to note that only the psychotherapist is in a position to decide whether or not hypnosis is suitable for a patient, depending on their diagnosis.
Thus, it could be recommended to those who are dealing with anxiety, depression, stress, various eating problems, or addictions.
Defined as a set of psychological theories and therapeutic methods that originated in the 19th-century research of Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis is the type of psychotherapy that starts from the fundamental idea that all human beings have unconscious thoughts, desires, and memories.
In essence, psychoanalysis aims to bring them, from the unconscious to the conscious, which can have a cathartic function, by the fact that people become aware of the problems they have repressed, and denied, repressed and thus free themselves from them and understand how can make a change in their life.
Psychoanalysis can be recommended to those who are dealing with anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as those who have relationship problems, are dealing with certain addictions, or feel acute dissatisfaction with their personal and/or professional life.
4. Psychodrama is another know type of psychotherapy
This is a type of psychotherapy, less known in our country, either individual or group, developed by Jacob Levi Moreno. Psychodrama aims to train the patient’s creativity and spontaneity.
In fact, the patient discovers himself, during the psychodrama sessions, through theater exercises, the psychotherapist fulfilling the role of the “director”, and the other participants – the role of auxiliary egos (members of the group who enter the roles of important characters for the patient) or the role of the audience ( members of the group attending the “show”).
Psychodrama can be recommended to those who are dealing with depression, anxiety, stress, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
5. Adlerian psychotherapy
Developed by the psychotherapist Alfred Adler, Adlerian psychotherapy starts from the idea that human behavior is learned and can be controlled, and man is seen as a social being, who acts guided by the conscious rather than the unconscious – we observe, therefore, a total perspective different from that proposed by Sigmund Freud, within psychoanalysis.
Furthermore, Alfred Adler punctuates the idea that people have the power to choose what they want to be.
Adlerian psychotherapy aims, in the first phase, to build a relationship of trust between patients and therapists (the latter having rather the role of educators). The next step will be the evaluation of the lifestyle and the analysis and interpretation of the patient’s first memories.
Subsequently, there is an examination of the patient’s fundamental faults, which have their roots in the principles acquired in childhood. The third stage involves self-analysis: the patient understands the roots of his own behaviors, with the aim of being able to change them.
Last but not least, the fourth stage consists of self-education: the patient acts toward the changes he wants to make in his life.
6. Types of psychotherapy – Person-centered psychotherapy
Person-centered psychotherapy was developed by Carl Rogers in the middle of the 20th century. This therapy is based on the humanistic principle that the patient is responsible for his own development. Thus, Rogersian psychotherapy emphasizes the importance of each human being and his values.
In this type of therapy, the psychotherapist’s role is to create an environment in which the patient feels unconditionally accepted. In Carl Rogers’ view, this is the fundamental factor that will help the patient make a change in his life.
At the same time, the psychotherapist guides the patient to find the true, authentic self, as well as to the process of liberation from the standards of others. These standards are the basis of the formation of the ideal self: because, according to Carl Rogers, the discrepancy between the real self and the ideal self is closely related to the patient’s problems and suffering.
7. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
One of the most widely used types of psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy focuses on solving problems, starting from the idea that the behavioral patterns of the human being are determined by the way it interprets situations and lived experiences.
Basically, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy helps the patient to deeply understand his own thinking system (and, by implication, negative thoughts) and to change the thought patterns that cause him to engage in behaviors that are harmful to his physical and emotional health (such as repressed anger).
Moreover, this type of therapy is recommended, among others, to those who face anger, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
8. Existential psychotherapy
Existential psychotherapy has its roots in existential philosophy, which aims to answer questions such as: What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of existence on Earth? And so on
In other words, this type of therapy focuses on a deep understanding of the patient’s inner conflicts and addresses themes such as loneliness, death, and self-meaning.
Addressing such themes helps the patient to (re)find his own meaning in life and thus to define his values, but also to understand that he is responsible for his own actions.
Existential psychotherapy can be beneficial for people with anxiety, and depression, but also for those who are looking for their own meaning in life.
9. Gestalt psychotherapy
Developed in the middle of the 20th century, Gestalt therapy consists of the awareness and integration of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the present.
This type of psychotherapy starts from the premise that only by accepting who they are at present, the patient can make a change in the desired direction. Awareness and acceptance of what is now also involved the acceptance of emotions, even those that the patient has repressed for a long time.
10. Jungian or analytical psychotherapy
Jungian (analytical) psychotherapy has its roots in psychoanalysis and centers around the process of self-discovery of the human being. The goal is improving the quality of life and being in balance with oneself.
This type of psychotherapy capitalizes on a very interesting concept, the collective unconscious. This is different from the individual one, mentioned in psychoanalysis, and is common to all human beings, ranging from archetypes and abstract ideas to various universal patterns.
In this context, Jungian psychotherapy claims that when a patient has a psycho-emotional disorder, he dreams of certain archetypal images. That is why analytical psychotherapy sessions are also based on the interpretation of dreams, in addition to analyzing memories and experiences from everyday life.
How you can figure out which types of psychotherapy are right for you
As you can see, there are many types of psychotherapy. Some of them are more well-known, others less popular. Thus, it can be quite difficult to choose the right one for you. This can be even harder if you do not know in detail the particularities of each one.
What you need to know, however, is that certain types of psychotherapy may require more sessions than others. For example, if you are interested in psychoanalysis, know that you may even need to go for years. Thus, while there is no standard number of sessions for any type of psychotherapy, consider that some types of therapy can go on for years.
Another criterion that we recommend you take into account concerns the presence of other people during the sessions. If you feel that you would rather participate in group therapy sessions, you could go for psychodrama.
Last but not least, consider the approach used by the therapist, depending on the branch in which he specializes. An Adlerian psychotherapist can be seen as an “educator”, while in psychodrama the psychotherapist takes the role of “director”.
Think from which perspective you want to relate to the psychotherapist. The relationship you develop with him is essential long-term, and trust is fundamental.
How do you choose your psychotherapist?
There are several aspects to consider when it comes to choosing a psychotherapist, namely:
- whether the therapist is licensed and in what types of psychotherapy he is licensed;
- what training courses does the therapist have;
- what is the duration of a psychotherapy session: as a rule, an individual session lasts approximately 50 minutes to an hour;
- what are the therapist’s patient categories: for example, there are psychotherapists specializing in couple relationships;
- if the psychotherapist conducts online and/or offline sessions. Online sessions can help you get in touch with a psychotherapist who you admire and would like to work with, but who does not live in the same city (and sometimes not even in the same country ) as you.
Sure, it can be helpful to talk to friends or acquaintances who are already going to psychotherapy. It is important, however, to know what type of psychotherapy they do and whether it suits your needs.
Even more important is the relationship you build, over time, with the psychotherapist. It is essential that you feel that you can trust him and that he does not judge you. In other words, the emotional comfort felt during the sessions is essential.
However, consider that there may be some less comfortable sessions. The journey of self-discovery and healing can also be painful: like when you realize what your emotional needs were that you repressed for years.