5 Types of Psychotherapy: Which One Is Right for You?


Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy is a safe space in which you can explore, under the guidance of an expert, your thoughts and feelings to find tools that will better your life. Research shows that about 75% of patients who choose psychotherapy experience benefits from using it. 

Anyone can benefit from exploring their thoughts, feelings, the impact of childhood experiences on current experiences, and self-defeating behaviors. However, most people seek therapy when they find it hard to cope with life’s challenges, whether it’s due to depression, anxiety, or simply being overwhelmed. 

Below, we asked our experts at the Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness to share the 5 most common types of psychotherapy. Read on to learn what these types of therapy address and how they’re conducted. 

1 Psychodynamic therapy 

Psychodynamic therapy looks at subconscious beliefs that stem from childhood and persist into adulthood. It has its roots in Freudian psychoanalysis. 

The goal of psychodynamic therapy is to identify subconscious learned behavior in childhood that prevents an individual from achieving their goals or enjoying life in the present. 

For example, a child who was frequently punished for showing negative emotions might end up shunning or neglecting their emotional needs as they get older. 

Psychodynamic therapy is often recommended for depression, anxiety, and relationship problems. 

2 Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy looks at the link between thoughts, feelings, and actions. It’s intended to break through negative thinking patterns and change behaviors that are no longer serving a positive purpose. 

CBT focuses on the “how” instead of the “why.” It looks at how thoughts and feelings are impacting your behavior in the present, without giving much attention to what caused these cognitive distortions in the first place. 

CBT is also goal-oriented, meaning you’ll be assigned practical exercises on overcoming harmful behaviors. 

Good candidates for CBT struggle with anxiety, depression, addiction, or obsessive-compulsive disorders. 

3 Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

Much like CBT, dialectical behavioral therapy focuses on the present, with an emphasis on regulating emotions to achieve goals. It was originally developed for patients suffering from borderline personality disorder who underwent dramatic mood swings. 

With the help of a therapist, you’ll learn to both practice acceptance of where you are in life and strive for change. DBT is often recommended for suicidal ideation, addictions, and impulsive behaviors such as reckless driving, shoplifting, etc. 

4 Interpersonal therapy 

Interpersonal therapy is a short-term form of therapy that’s based on the premise that relationships can either trigger or worsen mental health. In interpersonal therapy, the focus is on improving relationships with others to improve your mental health. 

Interpersonal therapy is recommended for coping with depression, anxiety, the loss of a loved one, divorce, and alienation from children. 

5 Couples and family therapy

Couples and family therapy focus on systems and how relationships with others impact the individual. During couples and family therapy, a therapist may recommend specific steps to improve your relationships and increase your overall satisfaction levels. 

Learn more about psychotherapy 

If you’d like to learn more about what type of psychotherapy may be a good fit for your needs, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our therapists can offer strategies from one or more types of psychotherapies to help you achieve your goals. 

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