Work with a therapist


There are many different types of mental therapy available, and it may take a while to find your ideal therapist or therapy.

No one type of therapy is better than any other. Different approaches may help you in different situations, at different times in your life, and may resonate more or less with your personality.

The success of therapy depends on many things, including:

  • Whether the therapy suits you
  • Whether the thearpist suits you (personality fit, location and price)
  • How willing you are to commit to the process

Research which kind of therapy feels like the best fit for you. Then meet different therapists to see which one feels right to you.

The following is a list of some of the more common therapies.

Humanistic therapies

  • Humanistic therapies emphasise self-development, growth and responsibility, and help people recognise their strengths and choices in the present
  • They also focus on achieving one’s potential
  • The therapy takes a ‘holistic’ approach, looking at the person as a whole

Existential therapy (also known as philosophical counselling) is a type of therapy that emphasises the human condition as a whole. It believes we all experience conflict due to certain conditions inherent in human existence called “givens”. The are at least four primary existential givens:

  • Free will and associated personal responsibility
  • Death
  • Isolation
  • Meaninglessness

A confrontation with any of these “givens” can fill us with existential dread.

  • Existential therapy requires individuals to commit to an intense and personal philosophical investigation of their lives
  • Existential therapy helps individuals accept their fears, and gives them the skills necessary to overcome them through action
  • Existential therapy helps individuals gain control of, take responsibility for, and design the course of their lives
  • This creates a sense of liberation from the despair associated with insignificance and meaningless

Individuals who respond to treatment tend to find meaning and purpose in their lives and often experience heightened self-awareness, self-understanding, self-respect, and self-motivation. They realize that they are primarily responsible for their own recovery.

Existential therapy can be done alone, as a couple, a family, or a group, and can help with

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Posttraumatic stress

The in-depth, penetrative approach used in existential therapy may not appeal to individuals who do not wish to explore their intrapsychic processes, or who are solely interested in finding a quick fix for their mental health challenges.

It may be helpful:

  • If you have a critical mind
  • If you are seeking personal growth
  • If you are experiencing relationship problems
  • If you are seeking a new career, or experiencing work-based problems
  • If you are transitioning from one stage of your life to another
  • If you are experiencing bereavement

Existential therapy makes certain assumptions. If you feel an affinity with these assumptions, you are more likely to find the therapy helpful:

  • We have the capacity for self-awareness
  • We have a choice to act or not
  • We are free beings and we must therefore accept responsibility for our choices
  • We are in a constant process of becoming
  • We all have physical, social, psychological and spiritual dimensions
  • The significance of existence and the meaning of life is never fixed
  • We can’t directly seek meaning: it is a byproduct of activities such as creating, loving, working
  • We are all subject to loneliness, meaningless, guilt and isolation
  • Anxiety is part of the human condition
  • We come to know ourselves in relation to, and via interaction with, others
  • Problems and challenges are intrinsic to life,  and will occur at various stage in human development
  • Crises are times when old patterns have to be revised and when changes for the better can be initiated
  • Crises can give us the opportunity to learn to approach life with flexibility and vitality

Gestalt therapy is a type of therapy developed by Fritz Perls, Laura Perls and Paul Goodman in the 1940s as a reaction to psychoanalysis as developed by Freud.

The word ‘gestalt’ comes from German and it refers to the character or essence of something.

  • Gestalt therapy places emphasis on gaining awareness of the present moment and the present context
  • Through therapy, individuals learn to discover feelings and needs that may have been suppressed or masked by other feelings, and they learn to accept and trust their emotions
  • Through this process, an individual gains a new sense of self as overall awareness increases
  • Understanding the internal self is the key to understanding actions, reactions, and behaviors

Gestalt therapists use creative and experiential techniques to enhance awareness, freedom, and self-direction, and to uncover parts of the individual that may be deeply buried

  • Exercises and experiments, either in individual or group settings, are designed to arouse action, emotion, or goals from the person in therapy
  • The therapist and person in therapy can then examine the result of the exercises in order to increase awareness of the experience
  • Through exercises and spontaneous experiments, gestalt therapy allows people to reconnect with parts of themselves they may minimize, ignore, or deny

Gestalt therapy also recognizes that forcing a person to change can result in further distress and fragmentation.

  • Change can only result from acceptance of what is
  • Thus, therapy sessions focus on helping people learn to become more self-aware and to accept and trust in their feelings and experiences to alleviate distress

Gestalt therapy is considered helpful in treating a wide range of problems, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Mood swings
  • Grief

It might be helpful if:

  • You wish to understand your internal self and the reasons behind your actions
  • You tend to be guarded when it comes to your emotions, and find it difficult to process why you feel and act as you do
  • You would like to find a liberated space in which to explore personal difficulties

Human Givens therapy asserts that we all have innate emotional and physical needs. When these needs go unmet, we may be more likely to experience stress and other mental health issues.

The therapist helps the client identify and understand which needs are not being met, and helps to find ways to meet them.

Some of the human givens in the system include:

  • Food, water, and other survival necessities, such as shelter and a safe environment
  • Emotional needs such as attention (both given and received), emotional intimacy, and feelings of efficacy and achievement
  • Privacy
  • The sense that one has control over one’s own life
  • Connection to a broader community and a sense of importance within one’s social group(s)
  • An overall sense of life purpose and meaning

According to human givens theory, psychological distress occurs in three contexts:

  1. When people live in a toxic environment that prevents them from meeting their basic needs
  2. When a person’s conditioning or instincts inhibit their ability to meet their needs
  3. When a person lacks knowledge about what they need, or how to meet those needs

Human givens therapists blend several methods to create an individualized approach for each individual. In addition to their understanding of innate human needs, practitioners also integrate techniques from interpersonal therapy, CBT, behavioral therapy, and hypnotherapy.

Human givens therapy can be helpful when dealing with:

  • Emotional distress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Posttraumatic stress

Person-Centered therapy was developed by Carl Rogers in the 1940s. This type of therapy, also known as Rogerian therapy, diverged from the traditional model of the therapist as expert, towards a nondirective, empathic approach that empowers and motivates the client in the therapeutic process.

Rogers believed that every human being strives for– and has the capacity to — fulfill their own potential, and termed this natural human inclination “actualizing tendency,” or self-actualization. He likened it to the way that other living organisms strive toward balance, order, and greater complexity.

  • Rather than viewing people as inherently flawed, with problematic behaviors and thoughts that require treatment, person-centered therapy believes that each person has the capacity and desire for personal growth and change
  • The person-centered therapist learns to recognize and trust human potential, providing individuals with empathy and unconditional positive regard to help facilitate change
  • The therapist avoids directing the course of therapy by following the client’s lead whenever possible, offering support, guidance, and structure so that the client can come up with personal solutions and progress towards self-actualization

This type of therapy may be particularly useful for those wishing to work on their self-esteem, self-reliance and self-awareness. 

Since it is non-directive in style, it may be more beneficial to those wishing to explore themselves and their feelings, as well as specific habits or patterns of thinking. It may be less relevant to those looking for a therapist to take a more directive approach.

It can be used to help with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addiction

Psychosynthesis is also known as the ‘psychology of the soul’ as it integrates spiritual and psychological elements. It is designed for people seeking a new, more spiritually oriented vision for the future.

Psychosynthesis was developed by psychiatrist Roberto Assagiolo in an attempt to broaden Freud’s “talking cure” by integrating imagination, will, and intuition into traditional therapy.

  • The primary goal is to increase our sense of center and create balance in our lives by using our free will and personal internal resources
  • It aims to encourage actions that lead to personal growth by bringing together the individuals’s emotional, mental, physical and spiritual attributes
  • Psychosynthesis explores and supports the ways in which people harmonize all aspects of their personal self in order to grow and develop

Psychosynthesis is another term for the process of human development. When we cooperate with this process and allow ourselves to access every part of our being, mind, spirit, and body, we can begin to let the our unconscious selves work effectively. By integrating the different levels of our beings, we become powerful vessels for change.

This therapy could be beneficial for people suffering from:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Work or relationship problems.

Reality therapy has two core beliefs:

  • That mental distress occurs when one or more of five basic psychological needs are not met, and that we are all striving, all the time, to meet these needs
    • Power: a sense of winning, achieving, or a sense of self-worth
    • Love and Belonging: to a family, to a community, or to other loved ones
    • Freedom: to be independent, maintain your own personal space and autonomy
    • Fun: to achieve satisfaction, enjoyment and a sense of pleasure
    • Survival: basic needs of shelter, survival, food, sexual fulfilment
  • That we can only control our own behaviour
    • And only when we choose to change our own behaviour — rather than attempting to change someone else’s — will be be successful at obtaining our desires

Reality therapy encourages us to be more aware of any negative thoughts and actions and to change any behaviour that may prevent us from meeting our needs.

It believes that changing our actions may have a positive effect on the way we feel and on our ability to attain our desires.

This therapy focuses on current issues and needs rather than those experienced in the past. It also encourages problem solving.

Reality therapy focuses on what the individual can control. It focuses on understanding the individual’s needs and desires, and helps to develop a plan to meet those needs while refraining from criticizing or blaming others. It believes that this is the best way to strengthen connections with others, while building resilience, confidence and self estem.

Reality therapy is considered to be effective for addressing many issues:

  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Racial or sexual identity issues
  • Family therapy

Transpersonal therapy integrates the spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual, physical and creative aspects of the individual and works with all of them equally.  Transpersonal therapy goes beyond the personal, and seeks the sacred in daily, ordinary life and consciousness.

It uses positive role models to illustrate the realisation of human potential. Saints, artists, prophets and heroes are all considered to embody the true nature of the human psyche, and represent role models towards which individuals can aspire as they strive to reach their full potential.

Transpersonal therapists work with individuals coping with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Stress
  • Self-esteem problems

Transactional Analysis, developed in the late 1950s by psychiatrist Eric Berne, studies the “transactions”, relationships and interactions between individuals.

Berne took inspiration from Sigmund Freud’s theories of personality, combining them with his own observations of human interaction.

Transactional analysis believes that each individual is valuable and has the capacity for positive change and personal growth. It focuses on interaction and communication between individuals, because it believes that communication an important aspect of everyday life, and an integral part of being human.

Like Freud, Berne posited that each individual possesses three ego states. They represent an individual’s internal model of parents, adults, and children. An individual may assume any of these roles in transactions with another person, or in internal conversation. 

  • Parent:
    • Records external events observed and experienced by a child from birth through approximately the first five years 
    • Not filtered or analyzed by the child, simply accepted without question
    • Many of these external events are likely to involve the individual’s parents or other adults in parent-like roles
  • Child:
    • Represents all brain recordings of internal events (feelings or emotions) that are directly linked to the external events observed by the child during the first five years of life
  • Adult:
    • The period in which a child develops the capacity to perceive and understand situations that are different from what is observed or felt
    • The Adult processes data from all three ego states

The key to successful person-to-person communication generally lies in identifying which ego state initiated the transaction and which ego state provided the response.

The goal of transactional analysis is to help the individual gain and maintain autonomy by strengthening the Adult state. The individual will rely more on their Adult ego states to identify and examine various thoughts, behaviours, and emotions which might hinder their ability to thrive.

Transactional analysis can be particularly effective in treating emotional and relationship difficulties.

Cognitive and behavioural therapies

Cognitive and behavioral therapies are based on the way you think and/or the way you behave.

It recognises that it is possible to change, or recondition, our thoughts or behaviour to overcome specific problems in the present and make positive changes.

Read about the types of cognitive and behavioural therapies available, and choose one which appeals to you.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of behavioural therapy that uses acceptance and mindfulness techniques to help individuals live and behave in ways consistent with personal values, while developing psychological flexibility.

The individual works towards accepting unwanted emotional experiences and in order to live healthier, fuller lives. A full life includes a wide spectrum of human experience, including the pain which inevitably accompanies certain situations.

  • ACT does not attempt to change or stop unwanted thoughts or feelings but instead encourages people to develop a new and compassionate relationship with those experiences
  • This shift can free people from the difficulties of trying to control their experiences, and can help them become more open to actions consistent with their values

Acceptance of things as they come, without judging or attempting to change them, is a skill developed through mindfulness exercises.

  • Mindfulness can be described as maintaining contact with the present moment rather than drifting off into automatic pilot
  • Mindfulness allows an individual to connect with the observing self, the part that is aware of, but separate from the thinking self
  • Mindfulness techniques often help people increase awareness of each of the five senses, as well as of their thoughts and emotions
  • Mindfulness increases an individual’s ability to detach from thoughts
    • Challenges related to painful feelings, urges, or situations are often first reduced and then eventually accepted
    • Acceptance is the ability to allow internal and external experiences to occur instead of fighting or avoiding the experiences

Exploring painful emotions or overthinking an issue may interfere with our ability to choose purposeful and values-guided action. By helping us to take a step back from our thoughts and emotions,  ACT can help us act more in line with our values, and live in a way that feels natural and fulfilling.

ACT can be helpful when dealing with:

  • Addiction
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) brings together understandings from cognitive psychotherapies (such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and from psychoanalytic approaches into one integrated therapy.

  • It is a collaborative programme which examines the way a person thinks, feels and acts, and the events and relationships that underlie these experiences (often from childhood or earlier in life)
  • The individual will look back over their life and see how the pain and struggles they have had often continue to influence the way thoughts, feeling and relationships are managed

CAT was developed in the early 1980’s by Dr Anthony Ryle at a hospital in London. CAT developed as a public health response to the mental health needs of a busy inner London area. He wanted to offer a short-term therapy that integrated the best of different approaches to people’s problems, that could be researched and refined with the growing experience of clients and therapists.

Cognitive analytic therapy can help in dealing with:

  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating issues
  • Obsessions and compulsions
  • Relationship issues
  • Stress

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a short-term therapy that helps people see the relationship between beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, and subsequent behaviour patterns and actions.

  • Through CBT, people learn that their perceptions directly influence their behaviours and actions as responses to specific situations
  • Individuals are helped to unlearn negative reactions and learn new, positive emotional and behavioural reactions to challenging situations
  • The individual benefits from a collaborative relationship in which they are able to reveal personal issues without fear of judgment
  • The individual is helped to understand the issues at hand without being told which choices to make

CBT techniques incorporate many different therapeutic tools to help individuals evaluate their emotional patterns and states, such as:

  • Journaling
  • Challenging beliefs
  • Mindfulness
  • Relaxation
  • Social, physical, and thinking exercises to make individuals aware of their emotional and behavioural patterns

To reinforce the therapy, homework (such as practical exercises, reading, or writing assignments) is prescribed. Homework is a crucial aspect of many CBT treatment plans and challenges the affected individual to continue working independently.

Individuals in treatment learn new coping skills in order to better handle their issues, develop more positive beliefs and behaviours, and may even resolve long-standing life problems.

CBT is used to treat a wide variety of symptoms, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood issues
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Obsessions and compulsions
  • Addiction
  • Phobias
  • Sleep issues
  • Anger

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) was developed from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) by Linehan, who included acceptance-based techniques and dialectics to allow therapists and their patients to focus on the synthesis of polar opposites, such as acceptance and change.

The standard form of DBT consists of individual therapy, skills training groups, phone coaching for challenging situations which arise in between sessions, and a therapist consultation team.

Three theoretical frameworks combine to form the basis for DBT:

  • A behavioural science biosocial model of the development of chronic mental health issues
  • The mindfulness practice of Zen Buddhism
  • The philosophy of dialectics

Originally designed as a treatment for people experiencing chronic suicidal thoughts as a symptom of borderline personality, DBT is currently used to treat people who experience an array of severe mental health issues, including:

  • Self-harm
  • Eating issues
  • Addiction
  • Posttraumatic stress

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) combines mindfulness techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and stretching, with elements of cognitive therapy such as the association between thoughts and feelings.

  • MBCT gives people a greater awareness of their own body, helping them to identify the early signs of depression to ward off the episode before it starts
  • MBCT consists of 8 weeks of 2 hour group therapy sessions and 45-minute homework assignment six days a week in which individuals are taught to become aware of their sensations, thoughts and feelings without judgement and without reacting to them
  • Individuals learn how to use cognitive methods and mindfulness meditation to interrupt the automatic processes which can trigger depression, and teach them to see themselves as separate from their thoughts and moods
  • Individuals learn to interject positive thoughts into negative moods in order to disarm those negative moods
  • MBCT attempts to give participants the necessary tools to combat depressive symptoms as they arise

MBCT is recommended to people who suffer from recurrent episodes of depression. MBCT can reduce the risk of relapse of recurrent depression by 50% since patients develop a different relationship with their experience, and learn to view depression-inducing thoughts from a wider perspective as they occur.

Though originally developed to address recurrent depression, MBCT may be beneficial to people seeking treatment for a wide range of mental health concerns:

  • Depression
  • Generalized anxiety
  • Bipolar
  • Eating issues
  • Psychosis

Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies

Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies draw on theories and practices of analytical psychology and psychoanalysis.

Its roots lie predominantly in Freud’s psychoanalysis approach, but Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Otto Rank and Melanie Klein are all widely recognised for further developing the concept and its application

It aims to bring the unconscious mind into consciousness – helping individuals to unravel, experience and understand the deep-rooted feelings that affect their current behaviour and thoughts in order to resolve them.

Psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapies can help with:

  • Eating issues
  • Obsessions
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Attention issues
  • Relationship issues
  • Sleep issues

Jungian therapy is a psychoanalytic approach that was developed by Carl Gustav Jung. Along with Freud, he is considered one of the pioneers of modern depth psychology, particularly of the unconscious mind.

Jung and Freud eventually parted ways due to differing theories:

  • While Freud asserted that dreams and the unconscious are personal things contained within an individual
  • Jung believed that the personal unconscious is only the top layer of a much deeper, larger collective unconscious – the uncontrollable, inherited part of the human psyche which is made up of patterns (archetypes) common to all humanity
  • Jung believed that the unconscious is expressed via archetypes which help to understand the human self in general, and that these patterns explain why we have habits we cannot break, such as addictions, depression and anxiety

Although Jung believed that there was no limit to the number of archetypes that may exist, he identified four major ones within all humans:

  1. The self represents the unification of the unconscious and conscious parts of the mind, and is considered the central governing archetype of the human psyche
    • The creation of the self requires becoming who we are truly intended to be, an instinctual process which Jung called “individuation”
    • It is the aim of Jungian therapy to aid individuation
    • Individuation involves integrating all of a person’s past experiences (positive and negative) in such a way that the person can live a healthy, productive, and emotionally stable life
  2. The shadow reflects deeper, darker elements of our psyche – repressed ideas, instincts, weaknesses, shortcomings and desires – that appear in our dreams or visions, taking a variety of forms, which often reveal deeper thoughts and fears
    • In Jungian analysis, the individual is encouraged to integrate their shadow, as this self-acceptance is considered key to wholeness
  3. The persona refers to how we present ourselves to the outside world
    • It is not our real self but the good impression we want to put across to others
    • Our persona is often mistaken for our true self, but Jungian therapy helps separate the two, and the persona becomes a distant part of the collective unconscious 
  4. The Anima/Animus are the second most prevalent archetypes
    • The anima represents the ‘feminine’ qualities of the male psyche, while the animus represents the ‘masculine’ qualities in women
    • All men have feminine components in their psyche and vice versa
    • These archetypes are believed to be representations of our true selves and the source of all our creativity
    • Often suppressed, Jungian therapy aims to help individuals accept their anima/animus – uniting their unconscious and conscious – to help them feel whole

Jungian psychotherapy aims to understand the relationship between the individual and their psyche by bringing hidden elements of it into consciousness. Through self-awareness, transformation and actualisation, Jungian therapy can help individuals overcome difficulties that are limiting their psychological wholeness.

Jungian therapy is a talking therapy, but there are various methods of exploration used throughout the process:

  • Dream analysis: dreams are considered an anticipation of the unconscious
    • They offer the ego information, advice and criticism of our selves and compensate any maladaptive attitudes and behaviours that limit our potential
  • Word associations test or ‘free associations test’
    • The patient is asked to say the first things that come to their mind after the therapist says something
    • Response time is recorded and used to indicate activated unconscious complexes related to certain problem words
  • Creative activities: methods of self-expression, such as painting, drama, dance, sand playing, dream journaling etc.,
    • Can help patients engage with their active imagination and relieve inner creative qualities generally inhibited by moral or ethical values

Psychoanalytic therapy is based on the theories of Sigmund Freud, who is considered one of the forefathers of psychology and the founder of psychoanalysis.

  • This therapy explores how the unconscious mind influences thoughts and behaviours, with the aim of offering insight and resolution while making deep-seating changes in personality and emotional development
  • Psychoanalytic therapy tends to look at experiences and events from the past and early childhood to see if these events have affected the individual’s life, or potentially contributed to current concerns
  • This form of therapy is considered a long-term choice and can continue for weeks, months or even years depending on the depth of the concern being explored.

Assumptions of psychoanalytic therapy:

  • Psychological problems are rooted in the unconscious
  • Manifest symptoms are caused by hidden or ‘latent’ disturbances
  • Typical causes for psychological upset include unresolved issues during development or repressed trauma
  • Treatment looks to bring repressed conflicts to the surface where individuals can deal with it

The psychoanalyst will normally listen to the patient’s concerns and look out for patterns or events that may hold significance. In this type of therapy it is believed that unconscious feelings and childhood events play a key role in mental distress.

As well as listening to the patient discussing their experiences, the therapist may use other techniques to help identify potential causes for some concerns, such as:

  • Free association
    • Which involves talking about whatever comes to mind without censoring or editing the flow of memories/ideas
    • The therapist will encourage the patient to speak freely to help them return to an earlier emotional state and understand any recurrent patterns of conflict experienced
  • Therapeutic transference
    • Which relates to the way the patient may be transferring thoughts or feelings connected to influential figures in their life (for example parents or siblings) onto their therapist, though this may not happen in every case
  • Interpretation
    • The therapist will occasionally interject while the patient talks with thoughts or interpretations of the topics discussed
    • Dream analysis may also be involved as dreams are considered important resources for understanding the unconscious

Psychoanalytic therapy can be used by those with a specific emotional concern as well as those who simply want to explore themselves. It can used to address:

  • Anxiety
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Sexual issues
  • Low self-esteem
  • Phobias
  • Social shyness
  • Sleep issues

Psychodynamic therapy is rooted in traditional psychoanalysis and was developed as a simpler, shorter alternative to psychoanalysis.

Psychodynamic therapy aims to address the foundation and formation of psychological processes in order to alleviate symptoms and improve people’s lives.

  • The therapist helps individuals
    • Review emotions, thoughts, early-life experiences, and beliefs
    • In order to gain insight into their lives and their present problems
    • To evaluate the patterns they have developed over time as a coping mechanism
    • In order to empower them to transform that dynamic

According to psychodynamic theory, behavior is influenced by unconscious thought, and once vulnerable or painful feelings are processed, the defense mechanisms reduce or resolve.

Creative therapies

Creative therapies such as drama therapy, dance therapy, art therapy and music therapy may help you release repressed thoughts and articulate difficult experiences, whether or not you’re a naturally artistic person.

Creative therapies are based on the idea that imagination and creative expression can help you explore and heal. They all seek to establish a healthy connection between body and brain through artistic creation.

The focus of drama therapy is to unleash repressed thoughts and frustrations. By providing a theatrical platform to express their feeling and tell their stories, drama therapy allows individuals to vocalise, and work out their issues.

  • Drama therapy is “an active, experiential approach to facilitating change
  • Through storytelling, projective play, purposeful improvisation, and performance, participants are invited to rehearse desired behaviours, practice being in a relationship, expand and find flexibility between life roles, and perform the change they wish to be and see in the world” North American Drama Therapy Association.

Drama therapy was born out of the realization that some life experiences and wounds are too painful to address through verbal dialogue alone. It grew from Jacob Moreno’s therapeutic approach called psychodrama, which uses guided dramatic action to address issues and concerns.

Drama therapy is designed to promote healing and growth through role playing and dramatic interactions. It may be used to deal with:

  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Interpersonal relationship issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Behavioral issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Learning difficulties
  • Grief and loss

Dance therapy uses movement to help individuals achieve emotional, cognitive, physical, and social integration. It is founded on the idea that motion and emotion are interconnected.

  • Dance therapy provides a safe space for people to express conscious and unconscious feelings through movement, instead of words.
  • The creative expression of dance therapy can boost a person’s mood, improve his or her body image, promote self-awareness, self-esteem, and a safe space for the expression of feelings
  • Dance therapy can be used with all populations and with individuals, couples, families, or groups

Key Principles

  • Body and mind are interconnected so that a change in one impacts the other
  • Movement can express aspects of the personality
  • Part of the therapeutic relationship is communicated through non-verbal means
  • Movements can be symbolic and can represent unconscious material/processes
  • Movement improvisation/experimentation can bring about new ways of being

Beneficial for both physical and mental health, dance therapy can be helpful when dealing with:

  • Stress
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Family conflict

Art therapy uses the creative process, pieces of art created in therapy, and third-party artwork to help people in treatment develop self-awareness, explore emotions, address unresolved emotional conflicts, improve social skills, communication and concentration, and raise self-esteem. Art has often been used historically as a means of communication, self-expression, group interaction, diagnosis, and conflict resolution.

  • Art therapy allows people to express feelings on any subject through creative work rather than speech, it is thus believed to be particularly helpful for those who feel out of touch with their emotions or feelings
  • People experiencing difficulty discussing or remembering painful experiences and psychological trauma may also find art therapy especially beneficial
  • Art therapists work to help individuals of all ages, families, groups, and communities become more in touch with their emotions

Positive results in art therapy may be achieved when dealing with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Stress
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Attention issues
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Family or relationship issues

Music has been used as a therapeutic tool for centuries and has been shown to affect many areas of the brain, including the regions involved in emotion, cognition, sensation, and movement. Music has been associated with improvements in self-esteem, socialization skills, group cohesion, and coping skills.

  • Music therapy involves a broad range of activities, such as listening to music, singing, playing a musical instrument, writing songs, and talking about the meaning of songs
  • Music therapy can benefit many individuals, especially those who find it difficult to express themselves verbally, who may display a greater degree of interest and engagement in music therapy than they would in a more traditional form of therapy
  • No background in music is required for a person to benefit from this approach
  • Music therapy can be conducted with individuals or in groups, and the music may be chosen by the therapist or by the person in therapy
  • Music is more likely to have influence if it matches an individual’s current condition, and lyrics and melody of a selected piece of music are usually matched with the mood and psychological state of the individual in therapy

Since music can evoke positive emotions and stimulate reward centers in the brain, music therapy is often able to alleviate symptoms of mental health issues such as:

  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Addiction
  • Sleep issues

Music therapy generally produces positive results, but it is not recommended as a stand-alone treatment. While music may help to alleviate some of the symptoms, other forms of treatment may also be necessary.

Relationship therapies

While doing individual therapy and working on the self is usually very beneficial to our relationships, there are certain types of relationship therapies which are geared specifically towards understanding and improving our relationships with others.

Family and Systemic therapy helps people in a close relationship express and explore difficult thoughts and emotions, understand each other, appreciate each other’s needs, build on strengths and make useful changes in their relationships and lives.

Family systems therapy is based on Murray Bowen’s family systems theory, which holds that individuals are inseparable from their network of relationships.

Family systems therapy has been used to help with many mental and behavioral health concerns, both in children and adults, as individuals work together with their families and/or significant and the relationship is used as a resource, reducing stress and difficulties for all. Family therapy can be helpful in dealing with:

  • Addictions
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating issues
  • Attention issues
  • Grief
  • Self-harm
  • Relationship difficulties (such as those due to separation, divorce, etc…)

Couples therapy is a form of talk therapy designed for those in a romantic relationship. When our most important relationship begins to falter, our health and happiness suffer too. Seeking help from the outside can be incredibly useful.

Couples therapy aims to improve communication and resolve issues within an intimate relationship and is directed to both people in the relationship.

Sometimes talking to someone with no connection to the couple will help them gain perspective. A couples therapist will facilitate change and resolution by helping the couple communicate more effectively and reach their own conclusions. The therapist will not offer their personal opinion, but they will help do the following:

  • Understand how external factors such as family values, religion, lifestyle and culture affect the relationship
  • Reflect on the past and how it operates in the present
  • Communicate in a more constructive way
  • Learn why arguments escalate
  • Negotiate and resolve conflicts where possible

The couple may find a way of overcoming their problems, or they may decide it is time to part ways.

Counselling and coaching

Counselling and coaching can be more practical and future-oriented types of therapy, while still involving listening and support to help the individual deal with thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

Counselling is a type of talking therapy in which a person talks about their problems and feelings in a confidential and dependable environment to a counsellor who is trainer to listen with empathy.

Counselling sessions can provide a safe and regular space to talk and explore difficult feelings and emotions. The counsellor will help the patient gain a better understanding of their feelings and thought processes, as well as identifying ways of finding solutions to problems, without giving advice.

Counselling can help you deal with negative thoughts and feelings and many different mental health symptoms, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsession and compulsions
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Eating issues
  • Relationship issues
  • Stress
  • Bereavement
  • Addiction

When looking for support, there are quite a few differences between coaching and therapy that should be kept in mind.

  • Coaching is more current and future oriented
  • Coaching is proactive, so there will be invitations to take action on your realizations and insights
  • In your coaching process, there will be some time spent exploring the events, lessons and challenges from your past, but the process will not linger there
    • The lessons from your past will be applied to ways you can make positive changes in your life moving forward
  • When considering life coaching, it is best to have already done some inner work on yourself so that you can bring that awareness to your coaching sessions
    • The more you understand yourself, the more you will be able to listen to your truth and take action in the outside world

Choosing between life coaching and therapy

Life coaching can be particularly helpful if:

  • I am a high functioning individual who feels held back or stuck in a certain part of my life
  • I have done the work on myself in therapy and have an awareness of how different events in my life have affected the way I operate
  • I am ready to take my life to the next level, ie. figure out my life purpose, new career, new relationship
  • I am ready and able to take action and want the accountability and support to keep me moving forward

Therapy may be the better option if:

  • I am in an abusive relationship and need guidance and support
  • I am battling with an addiction
  • I have uncontrollable emotions and find myself crying on a regular basis
  • I have not resolved childhood trauma
  • I suffer from depression and feel helpless


Hypnotherapy employs the use of hypnosis to help facilitate behavioural and emotional change.

  • Hypnosis usually involves the person experiencing a deep sense of relaxation with their attention focused on appropriate suggestions made by the therapist
    • These suggestions help people make positive changes within themselves
  • In a hypnotherapy session you are always in control, the hypnotist merely helps to facilitate your experience
    • Hypnosis is not a state of deep sleep
    • It involves the induction of a trance-like condition in which the patient remains aware
    • In this state, the conscious mind is suppressed and the subconscious mind is revealed
    • Once the person enters the hypnotic state, it is easier to discuss memories, gain insight, and introduce goals

Hypnosis is often used in a manner that allows deep self-exploration and discovery of unconscious intentions and motivations.

Some people find that just one hypnotherapy session is sufficient, and others may attend several sessions.

Hypnotherapy can help counter:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Addictions
  • Panic attacks
  • Sleep issues
  • Phobias
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Bad habits such as smoking, nail biting, etc…

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR), developed by Dr. Francine Shapiro, is designed to treat symptoms of trauma and posttraumatic stress, and can be used to address other adverse life experiences or negative beliefs.

EMDR sessions follow a specific sequence of phases, and practitioners use bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, to help the client process unresolved memories from adverse experiences

The adaptive information processing (AIP) model – the theoretical framework for EMDR therapy – explains that some memories associated with adverse life experiences may remain unprocessed due to the high level of disturbance experienced at the time of the event.

The stored memory may be linked to emotions, negative cognitions, and physical sensations experienced during the event and the unprocessed memory can affect the way a person responds to subsequent similar adverse experiences.

Through EMDR therapy, these fragmented memories can be reprocessed so that they become more coherent and less disruptive.

  • EMDR therapy is an eight-phase approach that identifies and processes memories of negative and traumatic events that contribute to present problems
  • After the person in therapy briefly accesses an unresolved memory, he or she will focus on external stimulus delivered by the therapist like eye movement, taps, or tones
  • During each set of bilateral stimulus new associations emerge in the form of insights, other memories, and new emotions
  • After each set, the client briefly reports what emerged in consciousness and the next focus of attention is identified for processing
  • The processing targets during EMDR therapy include past events, current triggers, and future needs

EMDR has been accepted as an effective form of treatment by several major health organizations including the World Health Organization. Studies show that it is possible to alleviate distressing symptoms more rapidly with EMDR than with talk therapy alone.